Senior James Bassett interns in the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi

Not only is senior James Bassett studying political science, but he’s also minoring in communications and public advocacy with a certificate in political and civic engagement. He takes us inside his day-to-day life as an intern for the Office of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. As a cloakroom intern, James worked with Democratic staff members to provide legislative materials on the House floor. He also was responsible for tracking legislation on the floor and delivering the whip’s agenda to the Democratic caucus. James notes that despite working during such tumultuous times, his experience working on Capitol Hill inspired him to seek opportunities to serve the public following his graduation from IU.

How did this experience impact you personally and professionally?
“My internship provided me with insight into the legislative process that I had not yet gained as a student. My desire to serve the public intensified and my understanding of my own personal and professional abilities grew. I left D.C. inspired to make a difference in my community and excited to put my experience to the test as an engaged member of the IU community.”

What were some of the most rewarding parts of this experience?
“Interning for the Speaker of the House gave me access to the front row of history. I watched as the impeachment managers marched to the Senate to deliver the articles of impeachment. I worked until the early morning hours as Congress addressed the COVID-19 pandemic. I had the opportunity to answer the Vice President’s phone call following an Iranian attack on U.S. forces. Having these experiences would not have been possible had it not been for the support of IU and the Office of the Speaker.”

What did you learn about the industry?
“My time in D.C. taught me that politics is a tough environment to work in. Individuals serving in government must be committed to the welfare of the public and must put their own interests aside in an effort to advance the interests of their constituents. If one has the motivation and desire to make a difference, politics is the right place to be.”

What do you wish you would have known before you started this position? Or what would you tell others before they start an internship?
“Keeping an open mind and using vulnerability as an asset are crucial skills that interns must possess on Capitol Hill. Before starting an internship, it is crucial to practice professionalism while also acknowledging that professional and personal growth will occur on the job as an intern.”

What did receiving this Internship Scholarship mean to you?
“This scholarship mitigated the financial hardships that arise with unpaid internships. Because of this internship, I had the time of my life as a student in Washington, D.C., learning and growing from the role models I’ve looked up to for years. This scholarship, however, meant more than money. This scholarship was an accountability mechanism, keeping me aware of the investment that others have made in my education. Because of this scholarship, I had the support network in place that kept me focused, kept me engaged, and kept me motivated. Thank you for making my dream become a reality.”

By Geoffrey Heck
Geoffrey Heck Peer Coach Geoffrey Heck