Southeast Student Gaining Political Insights in Sen. Blunt’s D.C. Office

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Erika Bone is rubbing elbows with lawmakers in the nation’s capital this summer, learning the vital role of constituent relations, as she charts a future career in campaigns and public policy.

Bone is interning in the Washington, D.C., office of U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, building on previous experiences she gained working in his Cape Girardeau office.

“This is something that I have always wanted to do since I have been at Southeast,” said the Southeast Missouri State University senior political science major and economics minor from Jacksonville, Illinois.

She’s working with Blunt’s staff, assisting constituents, attending policy briefings and press events, and leading Capitol building tours. The opportunity to lead visitors on Capitol tours is an “amazing” experience, she said.

“We give a lot of tours, and each time my appreciation for the Capitol grows just a little bit more,” she said. “There is so much history that has been made here and continues to be made every day.”

On Wednesdays, the office holds “Missouri Mornings” where anyone can visit and talk to Sen. Blunt and his staff, get their photo taken with the senator, and enjoy coffee and donuts.

“This is a great way to meet people from Missouri and hear their stories,” Bone said.

The internship dovetails nicely with Bone’s desire to help others.

“Although people may not believe it, Members of Congress want what is best for their constituents. They are regular people just like everyone else,” she said. “I love political science because it is something that will always be changing and always evolving to help the people. There are always new issues that come up that are then solved, and then there are new issues that need to be taken care of.”

She says she hopes to leave the internship with a better understanding of how the federal government works.

“It is one thing to learn about the process from a textbook, but it doesn’t happen like that in real life,” Bone said.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt said, “I appreciate Erika’s hard work and enthusiasm for learning more about the office and how we serve Missourians. I hope she’ll be able to share her experience and encourage other students to consider an internship on Capitol Hill or in a district office.”

Bone has gotten an up-close look at what a senate office does on a national level and how the lawmaking process works firsthand.

“Previously, I worked in Senator Blunt’s office in Cape Girardeau, which was primarily focused on constituent services. In D.C., I get to see a culmination of the things I did in the regional office, why they were so important and how they help,” she said.

Bone said she hopes to build on the connections she’s made on Capitol Hill, where she’s gotten to know Senate staff members and a variety of other professionals.

“There are always ways you can network with people, whether it is at an intern event or even where you are staying while out here,” she said. “I am able to network with people who are in fields that are not just political. I have met people in the business world, people who work at not-for-profits and even just people you meet out in the city.”

Outside of Sen. Blunt’s office, Bone has visited several of the national monuments that dot the Washington landscape and the Smithsonian museums. She also has toured the White House.

“There we saw the state dining room, Blue, Red and Green rooms as well as other rooms in the East wing,” she said. “They were all so beautiful, unique and detailed.”

She’s looking forward to seeing additional historic sites before she returns to Missouri. Once back on campus, Bone said she hopes to apply what she’s learned in Washington to the President’s Leadership Academy at Southeast in which she plans to participate in the fall. At Southeast, she is also president of her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma, works in the President’s Office and will be a student senator representing the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as part of the Student Government Association in the fall.

After graduating, Bone hopes to work on a political campaign staff for several election cycles.

“There is no greater feeling than your candidate getting elected into office,” she said. “All of the hard work and late nights are worth it when the final poll numbers start to come in.”

Her experience in Washington follows a previous internship she held with the Missouri Republican Party. She also participated in the State Capitol Legislative Internship Program, working with State Rep. Kathy Swan and State Rep. Tom Hurst in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Ultimately, she plans to pursue law school, practice corporate law and enter the corporate lobbying arena. For now, though, she’s soaking in the magnitude of a summer internship on Capitol Hill.

“I have learned so many different things from this internship. Not all of them come from being in the office either,” she said. “I have learned that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. Do the things that no one else wants to, and you will stand out. Also, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

“I am very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to what will come next,” she said.

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