Ohio University

HTC Environmental Studies senior scores Capitol Hill job through Ohio University internship program

Published: January 22, 2020 Author: by Eleanor Bishop

Jolie Brochin never expected to be working in a congressman’s office.

“I never imagined that I’d be doing something like this,” said Brochin, an Ohio University senior majoring in urban planning and environmental studies through the Honors Tutorial College.

In September 2019, Brochin began working in Rep. Bob Latta’s office through the Ohio University National Capital Internship Program. She had been urged to apply for the internship by Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs professor Dr. Geoff Dabelko, the program’s co-director and Brochin’s HTC thesis advisor.

“Dr. Dabelko knew that I was interested in environmental policy,” Brochin said. “I have always been interested in the inner workings of the government, but at first I was worried that I would be at a disadvantage since I’m not a political science major.”

For a month, Brochin answered phones, entered data, wrote memos, attended briefings and gave tours of the Capitol Building. She tried to make the most of every experience and emphasized the importance of asking questions and treating every task as a learning opportunity. 

In October, Brochin learned that Latta’s office wanted to hire a new staff assistant. She expressed her interest and was soon interviewing with Latta’s chief of staff.

“After I finished explaining why I wanted it, he offered me the position on the spot,” Brochin said.

As a staff assistant, Brochin works primarily in scheduling and research. Brochin’s environmental studies work — from her experience as a public health researcher for the university to her one-on-one environmental studies tutorials — comes in especially handy when conducting research for Rep. Latta, who serves on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

“I also had taken several classes in management information systems, which have been very helpful with the technical and organizational work I complete on a daily basis,” she said.

She’s also taking advantage of the networking opportunities that weren’t open to her as an intern.

“There are always different receptions and happy hours held after the workday, which gives staffers the opportunity to learn about new topics, network, and celebrate different events,” Brochin said.

Brochin will complete her Ohio University degree from Washington, working remotely on her Honors Tutorial College thesis with Dabelko and Dr. Geoff Buckley. She plans to graduate in May.

“At the end of the day, I think that being honest, hard-working, and open-minded and having good intentions is the best way to succeed,” Brochin said. “If you help other people and mean well, other people will want to help you succeed.”

Brochin’s willingness to take an unorthodox approach to her education is one of the things that sets her apart, Dabelko said.

“Jolie fully takes advantage of opportunities, even if they are different from the standard course of eight semesters on campus,” Dabelko said. 

Dabelko, who worked in Washington at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars for 25 years, encourages all students to seek similar opportunities.

“The National Capital Internship Program is one of a number of opportunities that Ohio University students have to learn by doing,” he said. “You start to understand and are able to apply some of that knowledge from the classroom, but also learn lessons you’ll never learn in the classroom.”

At the moment, Brochin isn’t sure where this career path will lead her. “I think that climbing the ladder and becoming a legislative staffer would potentially be a great opportunity,” she said. She is sure about one thing, though: “The OU National Capital Internship Program has changed my life,” she said. “I feel very fortunate to be in the position I am in.”