As a recent graduate from Southern Illinois University of Edwardsville with a degree in Spanish, I was not sure that I would be a good fit as an intern for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s public policy office. I knew absolutely nothing about public policy or even the logistics and culture of Washington D.C. before beginning this internship. However, on my first day at the office I hit the ground running and haven’t looked back since. I quickly learned how to navigate D.C., get around with ease on Capitol Hill, interact with other public policy professionals, and communicate with a wide variety of people in the not-for-profit world.
I particularly enjoyed going to congressional hearings and caucuses, as well as events put on by the Center for American Progress. D.C. is a city full of knowledge, and it was really great that my supervisor encouraged me to take advantage of it. Even if an event didn’t specifically relate to suicide prevention or mental health, I was still allowed to attend if it was something that truly interested me. We also got to get out and explore the city a bit on once a month office outings which allowed me to see even more of the great history and culture of D.C. It was easy to see that AFSP’s public policy division really does care about their interns and the substance of their experiences. As an intern, you are trusted with meaningful work, treated with respect, and expected to do your best.
The most rewarding experience of my time here at AFSP was helping to prepare for and execute the 2011 AFSP Advocacy Forum. That provided me invaluable lessons on preparation, event planning, logistics, communication, and teamwork. The amount of work it took to pull off such a successful event was astounding, and I’m so glad I got to be a part of it. I definitely felt like I made an impact as an intern for AFSP’s public policy division which is not something all of my friends who interned for other organizations can claim. All in all, interning for AFSP was the best decision I could have made for my semester here in D.C.