Few Americans have the chance to really get to know their representatives in Congress. Thomas Funk ’15, who completed his second internship this summer with Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, is an exception. He worked at her congressional office in Washington D.C. and received funding from the Joseph F. Anderson ’44 internship fund to live in the capital city.
Congresswoman Cheri Bustos represents Illinois’s 17th district in the House of Representatives. As an intern in her D.C. office, Funk primarily communicated with constituents. He answered phone calls, read letters and recorded their questions and comments. He and the other interns then worked to respond to constituents’ concerns. Funk explained, “This involves researching legislation and conferring with the legislative staff on where the Congresswoman stands on the particulars of the various issues.” He also conducted research for the legislative staff, gave tours of the Capitol to constituents and helped with the congresswoman’s scheduling.
Funk, a world politics major, has plenty of experience working in politics. Last summer, he worked on Congresswoman Bustos’s campaign in Illinois. He remarked, “I worked with some of the same people that I worked with on the campaign, so it was nice to maintain those connections and also work with them in a different environment.” Funk also found it very fulfilling to continue working with Bustos, who he described as “very warm and personal.”
His internship at Congresswoman Bustos’s office has granted Funk some unique experiences. He particularly enjoyed becoming more familiar with Washington D.C. He observed, “Everybody sort of has an idea of how things work in Congress and in D.C. in general, but it’s hard to fully comprehend it unless you experience it first-hand.” He’s been able to get an in depth look at how congress functions and was especially interested to see how the members of Congress, staffers, interest groups and media interact.
Funk is also interested in international relations, which his internship has allowed him to explore. He worked together with the international relations legislative staffer in Congresswoman Bustos’s office to answer constituents’ letters on the subject of international relations. Next year he will be studying abroad in Paris through the Hamilton Junior Year in France. While Funk can see himself returning to work in Washington D.C., he is hoping to continue working with international relations in Europe. Funk believes he will benefit from his internship this summer as he moves forward into a career in politics.
Funk is a graduate of Parkview High School in Springfield, Mo.