What to Bring to your Internship

By Georgia Warrington| July 2, 2014

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An Interview with Abbey Reller.

Abbey Reller’s interest in global warming and the human impact on the environment started back in high school.

But for Abbey it was more than recycling and LED light bulbs. She was interested in how government and policymakers and influencers could shape the conversation about conservation, and make laws that make change.

So in the fall of 2011 Abbey interned in the offices of the Environmental Protection Agency. What she learned not only guided her career choices, but helped her fine tune her values and political allegiances.

Georgia Warrington had a chat with Abbey to find out just how this Public Affairs grad navigated the Nation’s Capitol.

GW: Where did you come from to intern in DC?

Abbey: Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, but I’m originally from Indianapolis.

GW: Where did you intern?

Abbey: My first internship was at the Environmental Protection Agency in D.C., but I’ve also interned for Congressman Todd C. Young (IN-9), U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Electricity,and for Congresswoman Susan W. Brooks (IN-5).

GW: How did you get it?

Abbey: I applied in February 2011 and heard in May to start in the fall. However, when I was adamant about wanting to intern at the Dept. of Energy, it was not as easy. I applied in February when the position opened. I found out in May and started in June. I had 3 weeks to plan travel and housing. It’s not always easy, but if you put your mind to it, things will work out.

GW: What is your dream job, and did your internship fit your goal?

Abbey: My dream job is to be a lobbyist in the energy industry. Currently, I’m working at an energy lobbying firm, Morgan Meguire, as a Government Relations Assistant. This is a great first step in becoming an expert on energy issues and eventually becoming a lobbyist.

People tend to shy away from the word ‘lobbyists’ because it has so many negative connotations along with it. But I see it as being an advocate for an issue. And right now there a lot of good things happening in the energy industry and I want to advocate for them.

GW: What was the biggest surprise about your internship?

Abbey: I was very surprised by the amount of information I was exposed to as an intern. I was privy to all aspects of the organization, pretty much all the inner workings. And I was trusted. I was also surprised by the amount of time I got to spend with people who get their names in the paper and on book covers!

GW: What 1 thing would you advise people to bring with them to DC?

Abbey: An open mind. Never say yes or no too quickly.

GW: What was the best thing about DC?

Abbey: DC is full of bright-minded, driven and enthusiastic people. Everyone is fired up about something and it’s contagious!

GW: Did your internship change your career goals?

Abbey: My internship helped me hone in on what I really wanted to do—and what I really didn’t want to do. Beforehand, I just had a small idea. I came to DC as a Republican, but wondered if I would come out the way I came in. Being from Indiana and growing up in a Conservative family, I only heard one side. But, the more I heard from the other side of the aisle, the more I felt my initial roots grow deeper.

GW: Give current interns your one best piece of advice!

Abbey: Find the issue you’re passionate about and don’t give up on it!

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