Malin Roos: A Swedish Trainee in the Middle of American Politics
Malin Roos is conducting her internship through SACC-USA’s Trainee Program in the heartland of the American politics, namely the famous Capitol Hill as an intern at the office of Congressman Randy Hultgren (Swedish descendant and representing the 14th district of Illinois) in the US Congress. Usually Malin is a Master’s student in European Studies at Gothenburg University and this is her first time in the U.S. and she loves the experience, “I find it interesting to work with Americans and to get a deeper understanding of their mentality and life.”
It has also entailed getting behind the scenes knowledge of American Politics in general, on the three different committees and nine different subcommittees that the Congressman sits on in particular, and this in the midst of a Presidential election year. At different lobby events she has developed her networking skills and Malin notes that “the skill of how to make an impression, getting the point across and establish a connection is something I will take with me”.
Further, Congressman Hultgren works as a representative for his constituents (civilians, companies and organizations), which means that a regular day for Malin can consist of consulting constituents in specific issues, in order to adapt the program accordingly. As an intern she is encouraged to attend meetings and hearings that suits her own interests and report back to the staff. This fits Malin, since she is interested in energy and foreign policy related topics, which is also focus points shared by Congressman Hultgren. Another highlight of the internship is her involvement with the Swedish Caucus, whose mission is to promote the economic and cultural ties between the U.S. and Sweden, and that recently has become a recurring bicameral event. Also, as the only Swede in the office, Malin has become somewhat of a Swedish Ambassador and acts as a bridge between the office and its Swedish visitors.
Furthermore, the work climate is different from what Malin expected and perceives the culture at the Hill as less hierarchical and more informal compared to her experiences in Sweden and England. Constituents visiting Washington come to the office every week both to voice concerns and to get a tour of the Capitol. Another difference is the importance of speaking up and communicating in a straight-forward manner. “Asking for things sends a message of being proactive and you never have to excuse yourself”, according to Malin. In conclusion, she thrives as an intern at the Hill and finds Washington a wonderful city with its Victorian houses, busy city life, and the Potomac River that runs through the city, where she goes both sailing and kayaking. Malin highly recommends this opportunity to future SACC-USA trainees and describe it as a fantastic possibility to get a real life taste of American Society and Politics!