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Alumni Blogpost: My Experience Interning for the DC City Council

By Tavian Southall – (TMA ’17 & Goucher College ’21)

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to work for the DC District Council as an intern! The wonderful staff at Mikva Challenge DC made it their mission to place high school students and recent high school graduates in District Government agencies as interns. The purpose of the internship was to ensure that District youth are seen as valuable resources to DC officials and community leaders, and to help DC youth learn about local government. I was placed in my Ward 5 Council Member Kenyan McDuffie’s Office.

Everyone in the office was extremely friendly when I arrived for my first day. My supervisor for the summer, Chief of Staff Ronan Gulstone, gave me a tour of the Councilmember’s committee and council offices, and even took me out to lunch. I was excited to learn I would work out of Councilmember McDuffie’s committee office, where I would have my own desk space, computer and Council email account.

During my time as an intern, I was not expecting to work on as many projects as I did. I wrote memorandums for public records and the Councilmember, attended Legislative meetings, and created a plan to increase opportunities for youth engagement in the District. I believe youth are the future and should be offered as many experiences to become as successful as possible. For my plan, I drafted a document that explained the issues, solutions and possible legislation. Luckily, through a little research, I was able to find written legislation that was intended to create a Youth Council at the District Council. Unfortunately, a week later, I was informed that this Youth Council had not been initiated. And so, I made it my mission to create a similar group that would work under the District Council, but work independently, similar to the District’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

I am so humbled to have been offered this internship. I was able to experience what it is like working for a Councilmember, made lifelong connections with people in the office, and am even more motivated towards my future goals – graduating from college and starting my own nonprofit that focuses on youth engagement and education in DC.