Chicago, Illinois Student Interns in Durbin's Washington, DC Senate Office

WASHINGTON – Chicago, Illinois native Lee A. Smith III spent two months this summer interning for U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) in his Capitol Hill office. Each year, close to 50 interns work in Durbin’s Washington, D.C. office. Interns process constituent requests and calls, help with legislative duties, and lead Capitol tours for Illinois residents visiting Washington, D.C. During that time, they gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative process, learn about the inner-workings of the federal government, and develop valuable research skills.
“I started my career on Capitol Hill as a college intern for Senator Paul Douglas (D-IL),” Senator Durbin said. “I will never forget that day in February of 1966 when he agreed to hire me as an intern to work in his office. It was one of the most exciting things I had ever done; a student from East St. Louis, Illinois was going to work in the office of a U.S. Senator. I know what a valuable experience it can be and we strive to make sure all of our students get a glimpse into the workings of the United States Senate.”
Lee was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. He is a rising junior at Tennessee State University in Nashville, where he is pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Communications. He is president of “Stay Woke HBCU,” an organization that aims to spread political awareness throughout Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Lee credits growing up in Chicago for his passion for civil rights and ending gun violence and drug abuse.
"One thing that I am extremely passionate about is helping make my hometown, Chicago, a better place,” said Lee. “Interning with Senator Durbin's office has given me the opportunity to see the hard work our country's lawmakers put in for their constituents.”
The internship is designed to provide interns with the experience in the core functions of a Senate office and allow them to gain a better understanding of the federal legislative process. Their responsibilities include assisting full-time staff in responding to constituent requests, assisting with information inquiries, attending committee and agency hearings and briefings, researching legislative issues and policy questions, observing floor proceedings, and attending meetings related to specific legislation.