My Internship at the Panetta Institute

Megan CollinsBeing a part of the 2015 Panetta Institute for Public Policy Congressional Internship was a true honor and a privilege. Myself and 24 other college students were invited to the Panetta Institute in Monterey, CA for two weeks to partake in seminars on different subjects within public policy and political science, followed by flying to Washington, D.C. to serve as interns to California delegates in the United States House of Representatives.

In my assigned office of Representative Mark Takano, CA-41 aside from the unglamorous office work of an intern, I was delegated to work on a special research project for my Legislative Director on telecommunication policy. He wanted me to look at affordable internet options for low-income consumers offered by telecommunication companies. At the end of my research, I found that there were very few options available, and the ones that were offered were incredibly subpar. After presenting my research to my Legislative Director, he though we could actually do some policy work with it. I got to meet with representatives from the FCC, Verizon, and public interest groups to discuss my research, and I eventually was tasked with penning a letter to  Chairman Wheeler of the FCC. I scrupulously labored over its writing, deciding what information was relevant, how to best articulate the problem, and what kind of policy suggestions could be made.

A few months later in January, after I had returned home from my time in D.C., my Legislative Director emailed me with news that he had sent my letter around the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and over 80 Congressmen signed onto it—it would be sent to the FCC at the end of the month. Soon after, the FCC announced that it would be instituting the policy suggestions I wrote about in my letter. Of course, my name was not attached to my work as I was just a temporary unpaid intern, but the work experience and the personal feeling of accomplishment were invaluable. None of this would have been possible without Saint Mary’s and its the Politics Department, specifically Professor Longo. I will forever be grateful to them for recommending me to the Panetta Institute, and to the Institute for finding me to be a worthy candidate.