NTUF provides interns with not only a policy education but a practical application of that policy as well. By attending the lunch discussion series, interns learn about broad spending categories such as defense, entitlements, and health care. They then apply the new knowledge to their daily assignments, ranging from researching individual proposals to simplifying complex issues through blog posts. At the end of the summer, these students and recent graduates will sum up what they’ve learned by giving a policy presentation to NTU and Foundation staff. Through this ongoing process, our interns will continue to develop skills such as teamwork, project planning and management, and a broader understanding of how policy interacts with taxpayers and current law.
Alex Eblen, one of NTUF’s Research Interns, grew up in Jackson, Tennessee and recently graduated from Rhodes College, where he earned a BA in Political Science and International Studies. In previous summers, Alex was a counselor at the PGA Junior Golf Academy in Franklin, Tennessee. He found this experience, where he was able to work with children and teach a sport that he loves, to be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things he has done. Last summer he had his first internship in the policy field, when he worked at a small non-profit in Memphis, Tennessee which focused on urban planning and sustainability issues.
What has been your favorite part of living and working in the DC area?
AE: There’s a certain feeling and atmosphere that comes with being in the Nation’s Capital. Seeing the Washington Monument, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, and the Arlington National Cemetery on my way to and from work gives my experience here a very surreal feeling. The city seems to constantly remind you that important and interesting things have happened and continue to happen here.
What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?
AE: I’m fortunate, because a good friend of mine from college lives in the area. He, his brother, and I spend a lot of time playing golf, tennis, and basketball with some of their friends. I’ve also been frequently taking tennis lessons from another friend; it’s been fun, but I’m still learning how to serve the ball.
Who is your political hero?
AE: I wouldn’t call him a political hero, but I’ve made a concerted effort to become more familiar with the life and presidency of Andrew Jackson over the past few months. As a Tennessee resident and the namesake of my hometown, I thought that it was only fitting that I should have a better understanding of such a significant and controversial figure in American history. As a reading subject, Jackson’s life and political career has not disappointed and has provided a seemingly endless amount of fascinating, and sometimes strange, stories.
What projects have you been working on while at NTUF?
AE: I have contributed to NTUF’s BillTally project. The information I find during my research on bills goes to this report. Recently, I’ve been given the chance to help put together some state-by-state research that NTUF will send to various state-based organizations. These reports offer insight and analysis of states’ congressional delegations and the possible budgetary effects of their sponsored legislation.
What have you enjoyed most about your work at NTUF?
AE: Actually getting to sift through real policy and see the nuts and bolts of what is getting proposed by our representatives here in Washington, D.C. The legislation I go through ranges across the political spectrum and touches on any number of issues and government goals, and this daily variety has given me an invaluable new understanding of Congress and legislation alike.
What challenges do you feel that you’ve overcome so far at NTUF?
AE: At first, I was overwhelmed by the legislative language and the amount of legislation that I was encountering. With each passing week, however, I’ve become more comfortable with the text I’m analyzing, and I’m developing my ability to efficiently sort through these bills every day. Having this experience in reading legislation is definitely invaluable as I look towards the future and potential jobs.
What made you choose NTUF for your summer internship?
AE: NTUF gave me an incredible opportunity to continue to develop my analytical skills, specifically in regards to policy. NTUF has also made it very clear that they are committed to giving all their interns a holistic experience that touches on many aspects of non-profit work, fiscal policy, and professional development. I was very interested in this approach to an internship program, and I feel like I’ve greatly benefited from it.
What advice do you have for future interns?
AE: Washington, D.C. is absolutely filled with young people. Every weekend you can go to a different neighborhood or suburb and find new, interesting, and fun stuff to do and people to meet; the city is electric. So come to Washington, D.C. ready to take advantage of all that the city has to offer and get ready for an awesome adventure!
Be sure to read our last interview with Kelly Hastings, and stay tuned to Government Bytes for an upcoming interview with Government Affairs Intern Melodie Bowler.
How can you help? NTU Foundation appreciates every contribution we receive. Your donations are tax-deductible and help further NTUF research and taxpayer education.
Thanks to Catherine Fitzhugh for developing the Profiles in Liberty series and interviewing our interns.