Beverly Banks is a junior journalism major at the University of Tennessee. Over the summer she had the opportunity to work in Washington DC in the office of Senator Bob Corker.
The three-month experience allowed Banks to have inside access to congressional meetings and procedures. Primarily, she worked in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, for which Senator Corker is Chairman. We were able to sit down with Beverly for a quick interview and ask her a few questions about the experience.
What did you do on a day-to-day basis in Senator Corker's office?
On a day-to-day basis I answered constituent phone calls, attended meetings with staffers, and wrote memos on foreign policy topics. On certain days I sat in on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings that discussed issues ranging from U.S.-India Relations to efforts combatting Human Trafficking across the globe. I had the opportunity to give a Capitol tour and interact with so many different people. Occasionally the interns were called over to the Capitol to help prepare for the arrival of a head of state or deliver amendments to the Senate floor.
What was the coolest experience you had while working in Washington DC?
Honestly, it is difficult to name the “coolest experience.” Every day of the internship was amazing because I learned something new and I met someone new. My intern cohort had a chance to see the Dalai Lama, Prime Minister Modi of India, and other foreign officials. For example, my intern cohort met the Dalai Lama and listened to him pass on his wisdom about the importance of the next generation of leaders. I feel extremely fortunate because this internship gave us once in a lifetime opportunities to interact with a diverse group of people. While sitting in on Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings, we had front row seats to the interworkings of the United States government and to various leaders within our government.
What have you learned being a student in Tennessee's School of Journalism and Electronic Media that helped you during this internship?
The School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee taught me to keep an open-mind and remember that you are not the story. When I say “you are not the story” I mean that in the internship I knew that this experience wasn’t all about me, it was about helping the staff reach a common goal. The common goal in this situation is interacting with constituents and learning more about how to meet the constituents' needs. In addition, the School of Journalism and Electronic Media promotes being open to a diversity of ideas. During my internship I utilized this teaching to learn more information about topics I didn’t understand or ideologies that didn’t necessarily align with mine. The School of Journalism and Electronic Media instills a great deal of professionalism and work ethic that guided me as I went into my internship each day.
What advice would you give future students who want to pursue an internship in politics?
My first piece of advice would be to never give up. Many times you may face a loss and you feel defeated. It is important to continue working hard and strive for your goals even if at first you do not succeed. In the context of the internship, I would encourage everyone to apply to as many places as possible and to not be discouraged if you are not accepted into the program you originally desired. My second piece of advice would be to be authentic, basically be yourself. It can be really easy in politics to become wrapped up in trying to be something you're not because you are hoping to impress other people. People who remain authentic build lasting connections and gain respect for their consistency and being who they are. My last piece of advice would be to pursue your passions. Find what it is in the political field that interests you and chase after it.
What were your biggest takeaways from the internship?
My biggest takeaway from the internship is that politics is painted in such a negative light. When I left the internship, I felt extremely positive about politics simply because Senator Corker’s office works in such a positive environment. Senator Corker’s office taught me how to maintain a positive attitude and to continue working hard. One of my favorite quotes from a committee hearing comes from former White House Chief of Staff and United States Secretary of the Treasury James A. Baker III when his book was referenced, “Work hard, study, and keep out of politics.” After leaving this internship I’m not completely sure where I am going with my career, but I know that I will maintain the strong work ethic and the positivity that Senator Corker’s office instilled in me.