Learning to Lobby Jason Renner ’19 interned this summer for two lobbying firms in Washington, D.C.
“This experience has been great for my future. My time in this city has helped me realize that I would be very comfortable working in public policy as a career.”
Jason Renner ’19
Hometown: Coopersburg, Pennsylvania
Major: Politics, with a focus on the American national government
Minor: Film Studies
Q: Tell us a little bit about your summer opportunity?
As a part of the Washington Term Program, I was able to jump start my summer intern experience in D.C. with the McManus Group, a health care lobbying firm. I spent six weeks in that office before I then transferred over to Polaris Consulting LLC, another lobbying firm, where I spent the remainder of my summer interning.
Both a Johnson Opportunity Grant and the John Warner Public Service Award made this summer opportunity possible. Without the funding from W&L, I don’t know if I would have been able to intern in D.C. for the whole summer. I’m grateful for the scholarships that were granted to me, and I hope to pay it forward by hiring W&L student interns in the future.
Q: What has been your favorite aspect of living and working in D.C.?
Interning and living in the greater D.C. area has been a phenomenal experience. Seeing both our nation’s history and policy up close and personal has challenged all of what I have learned about politics throughout my schooling.
Q: What does an average day for you look like?
Most of my days begin at 6:30 a.m. so I can quickly squeeze in an hour of exercise before getting ready for work. I then use the city’s metro system to commute to work, and am usually in my firm’s office from 9-5. Most days include researching relevant policy issues and tracking the congressional progress on those issues. Some days also included attending congressional hearings, policy briefings or forum events to learn more about specific legislation/policy. A lot of my work focused on writing memo reports on the various pieces of information I was covering for my office. Since I interned with lobbying firms, occasionally my evenings included attending fundraising events for various representatives or senators hosted by company clients.
Q: If you can choose just one part of your experience that has been the most rewarding and fulfilling, what would it be?
The most rewarding experience has been my ability to see the lobbying world more closely than I thought I could. I’ve attended meeting between clients and members of Congress, gone to personal fundraising dinners for members and even handled PAC money that came through the firm. While I knew this happened behind the daily office scene of the job, I was glad I could see it for myself.
Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced?
For me, that was learning how be succinct in my memo reports on the various hearings, briefings and presentations I covered. Writing was crucial in both my internships, as I had to be able to convey a lot of information clearly in only a few pages. I believe my writing has improved overall as a result of my internship experiences.
Q: Who has served as a mentor to you this summer, and what have they taught you?
I had great mentors in both of my offices, but my closest mentor was a fellow alum who worked at Polaris Consulting, Victoria Bell ’14. She was always incredibly kind to me, always quick to answer any question I had while also offering to help me experience whatever I wanted to on the job. She was easy to work with and made my experience that much better. She has further proven to me the amazing qualities that all W&L alumni possess, which is that they consistently go out of their way to help current and future alumni.
Q: What have you learned at W&L that helped you in this endeavor, and what will you bring back to your life on campus?
Professors who have challenged me on my writing style at W&L helped me the most on the job this summer. W&L prepared me to write fluidly and clearly for professional audiences. Also, I will be bringing back my networking skills to campus. I made the most of my summer in D.C. by trying to connect with alumni living in the area. I feel confident in my ability to network now, and I hope to continue to connect with more alumni in the future.
Q: Has this experience impacted your studies or future plans in any way?
This experience has been great for my future. My time in this city has helped me realize that I would be very comfortable working in public policy as a career. However, I hope to spend next summer interning in a different field so I can try to experience something new. I’d like to sample a few professional career options while I still have the chance to see what best suits me.
Q: Why is this kind of experience important to W&L students?
This type of experience is crucial for W&L students, I believe. It’s important that each W&L student has a professional opportunity like the one I have had because it helps students learn more about themselves. Students can learn what career they’d like to pursue, whether they should get a graduate degree and how to become financially independent and successful — all from interning with a company of interest. My experience has helped me grow, and I owe the alumni in both of my offices for the great opportunity.
Q: Describe your summer adventure in one word: