Heritage Foundation interns pose in front of the Capitol in Washington. From left to right: Bridget Littleton, James Kennedy (behind), Anna Jones, and Rita Heaton (the author)

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as an intern in The Heritage Foundation membership office.

After graduating in May from Cedarville University with a degree in marketing, I decided to apply to Heritage to gain experience in a principled, policy-oriented organization. Knowing how competitive Heritage’s internship program can be, I jumped at the chance for a position!

Here are seven reasons my experience this summer at Heritage has been invaluable:

  1. Learning about the philosophy behind conservative thought. Throughout the summer, all Heritage interns attend First Principles luncheons hosted by experts from Heritage’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics. As a business student, I appreciated learning how the principles established by the Founders shape conservative thinking today. Plus, the lunches were catered with Chick-Fil-A!
  2. Investing in my future through the Young Leaders Program. From resume workshops, to mentorship programs, to etiquette seminars, Heritage has helped me cultivate the skills I need to take on new roles and help spread conservative values.
  3. Attending high-profile conservative events. Nearly every day at The Heritage Foundation, I have had the chance to attend special events, lectures, briefings, and discussion panels.  A highlight of my internship this summer was hearing Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) condemn the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare just hours after the opinion was handed down.
  4. Guiding my own internship experience. The Heritage Foundation has encouraged me to pursue the knowledge and skills I want to take away from my internship. I sit in on staff meetings, help improve customer service to our Members, and make a real difference in the membership office.
  5. Interacting with Heritage Members. As a young conservative, I find it valuable to learn from different generations of conservatives who have loyally supported The Heritage Foundation throughout the years—even some who have supported us since our founding in 1973! Every day, I work with Heritage Members from all over the United States who are passionate about spreading conservative values.
  6. Opportunities to explore Washington, DC. Not only does my internship at Heritage provide substantial work responsibilities, it also includes time to visit and learn about our nation’s capital. This summer, the intern program schedule included tours of the National Archives, Mount Vernon, the Capitol, and the Pentagon.
  7. Involvement in an organization that makes a difference. As an intern, I hear stories every day about how Heritage is making a real difference in the debates on Capitol Hill—whether it’s Senators referencing our reports on the Senate floor, or our policy researchers appearing on the air, or our experts testifying in front of Congressional committees. I love telling Members all the ways that their support helps Heritage shape public policy. 

This year is an especially historical one in deciding what political philosophy will shape America’s future, and it’s been amazing to be at the heart of the discussion. Working in Washington during such a crucial summer, I’ve understood more than ever how essential it is for America to return to its founding principles. I’m excited now to start my professional life armed with the excellent education I’ve received at Heritage.

Click here to learn more about The Heritage Foundation’s Internship Program.

Comments (6)

Johnny Collins - August 7, 2012

I read your article with interest, Rita. I can think of nothing better than an internship at the Heritage Foundation to prepare you for a great job in the future. Godspeed! Johnny

Richard Cancemi - August 7, 2012

Young people like these give me hope in my old age!

Robert H. Davidson - August 8, 2012

Only 4 young people when there should have been 400 attending. We can’t make a difference with so few a number. It is our duty to increase these numbers. Thanks to these 4 young people but it is now their duty to spread brush fires among your own. May the spark of light follow your journeys.

Author Katie Nielsen - August 9, 2012

Thank you for your comment, Mr. Davidson. This summer, The Heritage Foundation was fortunate to host over 70 interns and we will be expecting over 150 more interns during the fall and spring terms. In all, The Heritage Foundation helps to cultivate over 200 young conservatives every year! We are confident that our interns leave Heritage with a firm understanding and appreciation of the First Principles and will soon be leading the fight for the conservative cause.

Larry Miller - August 8, 2012

Kudos Rita. Congrats on completing your internship. You have taken advantage of a great opportunity to learn from such an outstanding conservative and sensible mouthpiece for many in this country. I trust you will stay excited about the possibilities that lie ahead for you. Now, go change the world!

Dan Johnson - August 10, 2012

Thanks for your article, Rita. I love hearing from bright, young people about their learning experiences! Especially when we share the same passion for the principles of our Founding Fathers.

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