Joanna – Hofstra University

Public Policy Associate

As a graduating senior, interning in D.C. for my last semester of undergrad seemed like the obvious choice to prepare for my initiation into the real world.  What I could not have known before joining the AFSP Public Policy team as an Associate, was that this experience in D.C. would be one of the best of my life. The past three months here in D.C. have taught me more about advocacy, public policy, the legislative process, and my own professional goals and personal values than I ever could have expected. Combining my interests in politics, writing, and mental health advocacy, the Public Policy internship gave me the chance to learn my way around Capitol Hill and to further develop my professional skills.

Working in such a dedicated office for three months allowed me the opportunity to explore public policy as a career option and to experience the political climate that D.C. offers. Being part of the AFSP policy team afforded me the chance to attend hearings on the Hill, participate in State Capitol Days in different states, and create an issue brief on First Responder Suicides. The program allowed me to explore various facets of the professional culture in D.C., from nonprofit advocacy to political engagement. Not only was I working on projects and fulfilling tasks that pertained directly to suicide prevention and mental health policy, but I was encouraged to explore D.C. and to attend events that interested me specifically. With Natalie and my fellow intern, Pearl, I got to attend a rally on the steps of the Supreme Court lead by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Accompanying Connor and Natalie to Hill meetings with Congressional staffers offered a valuable glimpse into what working on the Hill is like, and every few weeks I was able to attend panel discussions at the Bipartisan Policy Center that exposed me to new areas of study and different political perspectives.

From a personal perspective, I never could have foreseen how sad I was to leave the office at the end of my semester. Everyone in the office is so caring, welcoming, and encouraging, and I truly felt like a valued member of the team. The office culture is productive and warm, and it made coming into work every morning an absolute joy. Everyone cares deeply about their work, and that always motivated me to do my best regardless of the size of the task at hand. Working under the mentorship of Taylor, Natalie, Connor, Chelsey, Nicole, and John was the most rewarding experience—both professionally and personally—that I have had in all of my undergraduate studies.