Urbana native, University students intern for Sen. Dick Durbin


Interns for Sen. Dick Durbin pose after a meeting with the senator’s chief of staff. The internship lasted for seven weeks in Washington, D.C.

By Abrar Al-Heeti

Some students work summer jobs, some take summer classes and some land internships with Sen. Dick Durbin in Washington, D.C. Leah Malkovich, Mitch Dickey and Nadia Gonzalez are three of those students.

Malkovich is an Urbana native and junior in political science at the University of Wisconsin. One of her fellow classmates at University High School in Urbana had interned with Durbin before, and hearing about his experience made her want to apply too.

After her application was accepted, Malkovich made the trip to the nation’s capitol, where she and other interns spent seven weeks performing tasks like delivering mail, giving tours of the capitol to constituents (which Malkovich stated was her favorite part of the work she did as an intern), answering phones, doing research for legislative aids and legislative correspondents, and responding to constituent letters.

“Constituents would send in letters about really, really specific issues, like they’re really concerned about this one article in an entire bill, so then it’s our job to respond directly to their concern,” Malkovich said. “So I did stuff on labor, education, health care … it’s our job to educate ourselves on that issue, and then also to respond.”

Malkovich said the interning experience has piqued her interest in returning to D.C., where she would like to work as a legislative correspondent or aid. She is considering either that option or becoming a professor.

“The most rewarding part was being (in D.C.) in general … being able to just experience everything,” Malkovich said. “I met a lot of really cool people. Everyone in my office was awesome; the interns were really cool. And making the connections too — it’s not like I’m going to be able to just get a job, but I will have people that I can talk to and ask for advice.”

Malkovich also worked with two University students — Dickey and Gonzalez.

Dickey, student body president and a junior in political science and economics, recalls when he and other interns sat with Durbin for an hour to talk with him.

“He’s a really nice guy,” Dickey said. “He flows very well in conversation. He’s very good on his feet with questions and coming up with responses to them. For being as busy as he is, he’s kept his grounds pretty well, I think.”

Sophomore in political science Gonzalez, who is interested in going into law, said the internship provided her an opportunity to “see thing in action from one of my favorite cities in the country” and helped her realize that the legal process is something she might be interested in.

She said it also provided her with a chance to speak with staff members who had recently finished college and ask them about their own experiences and how they got to where they are.

Dickey said the most rewarding part was the opportunity in itself.

“You do things that aren’t the most glamorous,” he said. “But the fact that you’re walking through the capitol building with an intern badge that essentially lets you go anywhere in the capitol building you want and the fact that you’re working with some of the top experts in their fields … the fact that you’re working with those type of people is probably the most impactful thing.”

Abrar can be reached at [email protected]