Samantha Robbins, a student at Georgetown University Law Center, interned with the Autism Speaks federal relations team this summer in Washington.
When I look back to various internships I have had over the years, I never realized that there was an internship that could be both substantive in the field I want to pursue, while also being one of the most rewarding experiences.
In my first week, I quickly learned about the differences between Medicaid, Social Security, employer-funded health plans, ERISA, and state-funded health plans. Additionally, I was caught up to speed about disability, financial savings, and wandering issues. The catch-up was tough, but I loved the topic I was studying and knew that my work could help benefit others.
I have friends who spent their summers working for a judge or working for the state attorney’s office, and although I am sure they had a great experience, I know it was nothing in comparison to my summer.
My summer job quickly became the hot topic amongst my friends who were eager to find out what each week had in store for me. My friends would laugh as I told them about how my heels broke (on the first day!) running to our meetings on Capitol Hill. I told them about how I shared an elevator with my Congresswoman and I recall their jealousy when I told them I saw John McCain. I loved telling my stories about my experiences on Capitol Hill, but the stories I loved telling the most were those about the people I worked with and the families that could benefit from the legislation we were trying to get passed.
I worked on issues ranging from helping to get better financial security for adults with autism to helping military families get comprehensive care for their families. What I didn’t realize prior to my summer was the sheer number of people affected by autism and of the huge gaps that still need to be filled to get families the services they need.
In particular, I worked on a project to discover what services each state was providing for children with autism, and I learned a lot needs to be done. Beyond all of the amazing research, Hill experience, and general health knowledge I gained, the number one thing I can take away from this summer is my new commitment to Autism Speaks and to people with disabilities everywhere.
I know I will forever be committed to the cause and will always seek to help in any capacity I can. I have Autism Speaks and the amazing people I worked with this summer to thank for the experience I had. I will never forget my summer as I go through the rest of my life and I will always be a supporter and advocate for the cause.