My name is Martha Reilly and I am a senior Political Science and Psychology major at Grinnell College, a small liberal arts college in Iowa. Coming to Washington, I hoped to find an internship that dealt with both mental health and policy issues to some degree, but my experience at SPAN provided me with so much more than that.
From my first day and throughout the internship, I have been able to work in a welcoming and challenging environment; I was given substantive tasks that aided others in the public policy office as well as provided me with significant work experience and led me to view mental health issues, and suicide in particular, through an entirely new lens. Not only did I learn more about suicide as a political and personal issue, I also acquired a better understanding of advocacy and the policy process in general. Through the internship, I had the opportunity to attend meetings on the Hill and see the political process in action. I was also able to actively engage in discussions with the public policy team and offer my opinion on issues. As an intern, I never felt like I was given busy work or like my views were not being taken seriously. John, Trevor, and Nicole, were incredible colleagues to share my internship experience with and I am so grateful that I was able to work with them over the course of the semester.
As the internship comes to a close and I prepare to leave DC, I am amazed by the amount of personal and professional growth that I’ve experienced while working at SPAN. I would encourage anyone interested in gaining a better understanding of advocacy, nonprofits, policy, or mental health issues to consider working with the amazing team at SPAN.