For some, interning is a way to spend the summer. For a few lucky ones, it’s a life-changing experience.
Kimberlee Trzeciak belongs to the latter category. Although she recently moved up to be legislative director in Rep. John Dingell’s (D-Mich.) office, she remembers how it all started: an internship during her junior year of college.
When she graduated from high school, Trzeciak envisioned herself going into journalism, so she went to Butler University, where she studied public and corporate communications. It was there that she was encouraged to take on her first internship as a part of her academic program.
“They asked you, ‘If you could pick your dream internship, what would you pick?’” she said. “And I said I wanted to work for Mr. Dingell.”
Coming from Allen Park, Mich., which was then part of Dingell’s district, Trzeciak admired the Congressman.
“He is a legend back home,” she said.
That internship was a turning point. After spending the spring semester of her junior year and the following summer interning in Dingell’s office, she had found her calling.
“If I hadn’t done the internship with Mr. Dingell, I probably would’ve gone into public relations or marketing,” she said. “It wasn’t until I did the internship that I realized maybe that’s not what I was meant to do.”
Interning in Dingell’s office provided her with another epiphany: She wanted to come back to Washington. “I ended up falling in love with D.C.,” she said.
Despite her commitment to end up working in national politics, Trzeciak took a short detour when she first graduated from college and landed a job in marketing.
“It was the first job that was offered to me in D.C., so it got me out here,” she said, explaining that she values it as a learning experience.
After four months of working in marketing, Trzeciak joined Dingell’s staff as a staff assistant, and she has been there ever since. For her, working the past six years in Dingell’s office has been a great fit.
“Being in Mr. Dingell’s office, I have the best of both worlds,” she said, “because I’m still working for Michigan and I get to be in D.C.”
Trzeciak, who goes home “pretty frequently,” feels that she and Dingell have the ties to their home state in common.
“He never forgets where he’s from,” she said. “He never forgets the people.”
She hopes to keep that connection to her home state wherever she goes next.
“Whatever I do next, hopefully it will have a Michigan connection,” she said, “and hopefully I’ll still be able to work directly with the people.”
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Terri Henderson, 6, center, whose mother is El Salvador, attends a rally with members of Congress at Union Station's Columbus Circle to announce the Restore Opportunity, Strengthen, and Improve the Economy (ROSIE) Act on July 29, 2014. The legislation provides incentives for government contractors to pay a living wage and other benefits that would help low-income workers.