Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hanging out with Mr. Mayor

Like I said the other day, you never know who you're going to meet. Yesterday, The Washington Center hosted a speaking engagement for Ryan Coonerty, a former TWC alum, who is now the mayor of Santa Cruz, California. The mayor talked about his time in D.C. as an intern and how he ended up in politics. He also gave some really good advice for students considering law school(he went to the University of Virginia law school and reminded us several times that Bobby Kennedy went there as well). Mayor Coonerty said it's okay to go to law school in order to learn a new way of thinking, because you would learn how to break down and analyze everything you read and what people say. But, the downside is that you would turn into the annoying know it all friend!

When Ryan Coonerty was an intern in D.C., he worked at the White House during the Clinton administration and he had plenty of good stories to tell. His girlfriend at the time had a college class with Monica Lewinsky, so he had to dish out some good gossip there(apparently Bill Clinton wasn't the first boss or professor). The mayor was one of the best speakers I've heard in a long time. He talked in a simple laid back way with plenty of good humor. I haven't met a lot of mayors in my life, but I'd be willing to bet that Ryan Coonerty is one of the coolest. So cool in fact, that I had to get my picture taken with him afterwards! Doesn't he look a lot like RSU's own Dr. Woller without a goatee?

Monday, September 22, 2008

You never know who your going to meet

First things first, I've got to congratulate Dr. Carolyn Taylor for being named woman of the year in Oklahoma! It is because of Dr. Taylor, who serves as the liaison for the Washington Center, that I am here in D.C. for the semester.

What an amazing night! I came to work last Tuesday and I had completely forgotten about a dinner that I was supposed to attend that night. I had known about the dinner for 2 weeks, but for whatever reason it had slipped my mind. The dinner was at the Capitol Hill Club, a republican social club located on the House side of the capitol that has been around since the fifties. To make things worse, I was wearing my least favorite suit (just a plain old black suit, very boring). Note to all guys: your shoes and tie should never be worth more than your suit! About the only positive thing I had going for me was that I did not make any plans for that night. I was debating whether or not I wanted to go to the Mets-Nationals game, good thing I didn't.

The dinner was for all the big players in the intelligence business(government and private sector) to be able to hear the House Chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Silvestre Reyes speak. It was sort of like a state of the intelligence community speech, what took place over the last year and what the intel. community can expect in the upcoming year. I met congressman Reyes as he was coming in to the room and had the chance to briefly talk to him. Rep. Reyes is a very interesting man, who told us the story of how he helped deliver a baby girl from a woman trying to cross the border by the Rio Grande river and that the woman named the girl America. A very entertaining story! On top of meeting Rep. Reyes, I sat next to a very interesting Colonel in the Air Force who flies the U2 surveillance planes. The Colonel gave me a history lesson on the 5 branches of operation within the military and how the system was created by Napoleon.

Last but not least, I met a person who stood out from the crowd in a major way, he was the only guy with a pony tail and his tie had guitars on it. Not the sort of thing you expect to see at a dinner like this. So, I definitely had to know who he was and he turned out to be Jeff Baxter, a guitarist for Steely Dan and the Doobie Brothers(sorry Mom, I didn't get his autograph). After making millions(he told us 7.6 to be exact) in the music business, Mr. Baxter decided to change careers. He now serves as chairman of the civilian advisory board for ballistic missile defense and was also an adviser to members of congress on the House Science Committee.

My adviser at the Potomac Advocates told me on the first day of work that you always have to be prepared in D.C., because you never know who your going to meet and last Tuesday night was a prime example of it.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The days just fly by!

It really seems like it. I had another busy week filled with a lot of interesting work. On Wednesday, I was able to attend a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the situation in Iraq & Afghanistan. The thing I enjoyed about the hearing on top of the good information that came out of it, was that I was sitting in the same room as the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and the Secretary of the Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mullen. My congressman Dan Boren was also there. Both Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen were the witnesses presenting the information.

Thursday was just as cool because I spent half the day on the Senate side of the capitol. Although I didn't see any of the senators, it was still kind of fun going into the offices of big name politicians like Clinton, Biden, Ted Kennedy, and both Oklahoma senators. After work that day, my supervisors took all of the interns to a bar called "Bull feathers" over on the House side of the capitol. The bar is named after a word that Teddy Roosevelt always used and today serves as a popular hangout for House staff members and lobbyists. It's just a place where people can gossip, network, and try to impress the others. Our bosses introduced us to a female Navy pilot who used to fly surveillance planes and now works as an intelligence staff member for the House. She talked to us awhile, gave us her card and offered to give a tour of the capitol building whenever we would like. I've learned very quickly that to be successful in D.C., it is all about who you know and timing. Timing is everything! Of course, those two things could be applied to every city, but you'll see it up close herein the Capitol.

I just got back from the Library of Congress with some friends of mine and was impressed with the architecture inside and exhibits they had inside, especially the part that covered the the start of the United States. Tomorrow (Sunday), I'm going to try and make it up to Baltimore for a baseball game. The only problem is that there is a strong chance of rain. If I don't go to the game then I'll go to the Marine Corps Memorial in Arlington, maybe start out the day by running on the Capitol Mall and through other parts of D.C.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A long 1st week... it was great!

Well, I started work last Tuesday with the lobbying firm and I already know that it will be a great learning experience. My work duties consist of a lot of researching different military programs for our clients and maintaining a weekly tracker report of what is going on with congress. Last week, congress was still out of session, but they return on this week, so I am expecting a lot more action and some trips to the offices of House and Senate members. My supervisors have been in the political business for awhile, so they have a lot of contacts in DC and have told the interns that we can expect to attend many different networking opportunities. I also learned that my internship will reimburse my metro fare to and from work every month, so that ends up saving me about $150, in addition to $15 a day for lunch( very rare among most internships).
I also started my forensic psychology class last Wednesday and I think it's going to be interesting learning the relationship between psychology and criminal justice.
It rained pretty hard on Friday and most of Saturday, so I wasn't able to do as much sightseeing as I wanted to this weekend. But, I was able to make it to the Jefferson Memorial and the FDR Memorial last night. Both memorials were impressive. I think I liked the Jefferson Memorial just a little bit more, because I enjoyed sitting on the steps and looking at the Washington Monument and the other buildings around. You can see the American flag on top of the White House from the steps. After visiting both memorials, I had to go back to the Lincoln Memorial. Anytime I am near the memorial I have to go there. I don't think I mentioned before that when I first visited the Lincoln Memorial on August 28th, it marked the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s famous "I have a dream" speech. There is a marker on the steps to commemorate the speech.
Today, I think my roommates are heading out to the Arlington cemetery. I've been wanting to see it every since I've been here, especially the tomb of the unknown soldier. I'm expecting another busy yet exciting week, so for now that's all I have.