26 October 2017: Growing up in Canberra, the Australian political scene has been at the forefront of Kate Hitchcock’s mind for as long as she can remember.
And now Ms Hitchcock will take that political passion to a new level when she travels to the United States to intern on Washington DC’s Capitol Hill in 2018.
Each year, students from a select number of Australian universities are invited to apply for the prestigious Uni-Capitol Washington Internship Programme, which places a small number of students in the offices of Republican and Democrat senators and members of Congress and Congressional Committees.
Ms Hitchcock will intern in the office of Californian Democratic Congressman Mark DeSaulnier.
For the student who is already studying a double degree in politics and international relations and communication in media and public affairs at the University of Canberra, she couldn’t resist applying.
“The United States is the political capital of the world and I imagine that right now is one of the most interesting times in recent history for anyone to be working over there,” Ms Hitchcock said.
“From a young age both my parents and teachers impressed upon me the importance of opportunities and this is something that I have carried with me into my adult life.
“As anyone would expect, I am both nervous and incredibly excited about this internship.
“To work on Capitol Hill is a tremendous opportunity and has long been a dream of mine. I don’t think it will feel real until I’m sitting in an airport waiting to board a flight to Washington.”
Since beginning her degree in 2015, Ms Hitchcock has sought every opportunity to involve herself in the Australian political process in order to deepen her understanding of it.
This drive saw her complete a summer internship with the Department of Employment last year. More recently, she undertook work experience with Seven News in the Press Gallery at Parliament House.
Working in Congressman DeSaulnier’s office will see Ms Hitchcock add to this experience.
The Congressman is a passionate supporter of access to affordable and accessible education, worker protections and strong employment policies.
He is a member of the Education and Workforce Committee and serves on the Workforce Protections Subcommittee and the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee.
“One thing offered by the program that is particularly important to me was the fact that if successful I would have the opportunity to work for a Congressperson I truly support,” Ms Hitchcock said.
As part of the two-month program, interns receive a first-hand look at America’s political system and its institutions. They attend hearings, briefings and press conferences both on and off Capitol Hill and assist with administrative functions, constituent liaison and legislative research.
Interns also attend briefings at the US State Department as well as the Australian Embassy. They visit the United Nations and travel to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania and to the origins of the American republic in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Congress Hall and the National Constitution Centre.
“I’m hoping to gain a comprehensive understanding of the nuances of American politics,” Ms Hitchcock said.
“After all there is only so much you can learn in a classroom on the other side of the world. I’m also really looking forward to the opportunity to further develop the skills I have gained at university in a professional environment that could be very similar to those I end up working in in the future.”
Ms Hitchcock said she hopes the internship will help her settle on a career path.
“I hope this internship can give me some certainty about what I want to do after I complete my degree,” she said.
“I’m currently set to finish studying at the end 2018, however I am not yet sure whether I would like to pursue a career tied more closely to either the political or communications side of my degree.
“I am hoping that this internship will help will enable me to gain better insight into where I see myself in the future.”
Ms Hitchcock will leave for the program in January.