Congressional internship provides learning experience
KENNESAW, Ga. (Feb 13, 2020) — As a congressional intern in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Kennesaw State political science major Eric Barnard is learning how government works from the inside.
Barnard, 29, who is participating in the D.C. Owls internship program this semester, is the recipient of a D.C. Owls scholarship.
“To have the opportunity to be working here in D.C. is like having a front-row seat to a historic moment in American history,” said Barnard.
The KSU senior, who will graduate in December, also interned for Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R-Ga.) Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs in 2018.
“I wanted to get an up close and personal view of how the Congress operates,” said the Air Force veteran.
“The thing that I’ve learned, and one which has surprised me the most, is the difference between the role of a congressional member’s D.C. office and their offices back in their districts,” Barnard said. “Most of the casework of assisting constituents with their individual issues is actually handled through the district offices, while the role of the D.C. office is focused much more on policy and governing.”
While no two days are ever quite the same, Barnard’s primary duties include screening phone calls, drafting correspondence, handling flag requests and presidential greeting requests, conducting tours of the Capitol for constituents, and attending hearings for staff members.
No stranger to the nation’s capital, Barnard previously served as a Security Forces Officer in the United States Air Force from 2009 to 2016. Among his major assignments, guarding the President’s airplane, Air Force One, at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
The military policeman was on duty on Sept. 14, 2012, during the dignified transfer of remains for U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans killed by members of an Islamic militant group in the American diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya.
Barnard also helped handle security for such high-profile events as the preparations leading to the second Inauguration of President Obama and Vice President Biden in 2013, the 2014 U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the White House, and Pope Francis’ first visit to the United States in 2015.
“That was an incredible job where, just like with this internship, I had a front-row seat to special moments in American history,” he said.
Barnard is the only KSU student currently working as a congressional intern and is receiving course credit for his work. Recent D.C. Owls include David Clarke and Shakayla Ramsey, who interned during the Fall 2019 semester.
“I would strongly encourage anyone considering applying for an internship – whether it’s with a member of Congress, a senator, or a federal or state agency – to go for it,” said Barnard. “It is an experience that can be very rewarding. It can open many doors for you and open your eyes to different things that you possibly had not considered before. I would also tell them to be patient and don’t get discouraged if they apply but are not successful in the first attempt.”
Fifteen students, including Barnard, have participated in the D.C. Owls program. In addition, three KSU students are currently working for congressional candidates in Georgia, one is working in the Georgia Governor’s Office and another is working for the Georgia Republican Party.
Students interested in participating in a Washington, D.C., internship may apply for a D.C. Owls scholarship. The scholarship is open to juniors and seniors of all majors with a minimum 2.5 GPA.
– Robert S. Godlewski
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.