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Olivia Shen is a Master of Public Policy student and 2015 Congressional Research Fellow currently working in Senator John McCain’s office assisting senior staff developing policy advice and assisting with the day-to-day functioning of the office.
Two months ago I could not have imagined I would be working and living in Washington DC. It’s a place of beautiful snow drifts, monumental architecture and politics on steroids. Just par for the course in the capital of the world superpower I suppose.
I’m here as part of the Congressional Research Fellowship Program, funded jointly by ANU, the American Australian Association and Virgin Australia. The program is a fantastic opportunity to see American politics and policy-making in action. We intern with a US Senator’s office for three months, attend a host of think tank and NGO events, and produce a research project on completion of the internship.
I’ve been lucky to be placed in the office of Senator John McCain from Arizona. The type of work I do is different every day. In the two short weeks I’ve been here I have drafted letters to constituents, written reports on committee hearings and conducted research on pieces of legislation the Senator is sponsoring. Of course there is also the usual intern work - filing, sorting mail, running errands etc. It’s a small price to pay for the insights we are gaining into the workings of Australia’s most important strategic partner.
It’s also exciting just being in DC and engaging with so many smart, like-minded people (especially my fellow fellows) who care passionately about world affairs. It definitely makes the experience all the more special.
For more information on the Program visit: https://crawford.anu.edu.au/current_students/content/npip/crfp/