Author: Oryza Astari

Lessons from The Hill: Landing an Internship

This is the last entry of a three-part series on lessons from interning on Capitol Hill. The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the office for which I worked. So, you want to work in government. Below, I will be discussing the necessary skills for positions on The Hill or government agencies, and some of my tips on how to land these positions from my personal experience. I recently made the move from the legislative branch to an executive agency (federal government). Currently, I serve as a Harold W. Rosenthal Fellow of International Relations at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Bureau of International Affairs (ILAB), Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking (whew, that’s a mouthful!). I support the Research & Policy Division with researching and editing the 2018 edition of one of ILAB’s flagship reports, Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, which is prepared in accordance with the Trade & Development Act of 2000. I also assist with creating the graphics for the …

Lessons from The Hill: Life Skills

This is the second entry of a three-part series on lessons from interning on Capitol Hill. The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the office for which I worked. In this post, I want to share some life skills that I’ve learned from working on the Hill. I call them “life skills” because I think these are skills that would benefit anyone in any phase of their life, whether you’re a student, looking for a job, working right now, or in the middle of your career. But I think they’re especially helpful for anyone in my position right now: a student who moved to a big city in pursuit of a career in government or politics. I grew up in a suburban town of Greenville, South Carolina. I was schooled there from elementary school all the way to college. I had little experience elsewhere then—a short summer stint in my birthplace of Jakarta, Indonesia, and a fall semester in Brussels, Belgium, but nowhere else in the U.S. I loved …

Lessons from The Hill: Maximizing Your Voice in a Democracy

This is the first entry of a three-part series on lessons from interning on Capitol Hill. The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect those of the office for which I worked. This semester, I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for a Member of Congress. I’ve learned so much from this experience—from the depth and breadth of the legislative branch to interview skills for jobs within the government—and I thought that it would be a disservice if I don’t share these lessons with others. In this post, I want to share the ways in which I’ve learned how to maximize our voice and participation in our democratic government. We all know that democracy isn’t a spectator sport, but our participation doesn’t–and shouldn’t–stop at the voting booths or getting people there. There are so many resources out there that are free and available, but for some reason, aren’t public knowledge. And the fact that we don’t know or use these resources, and instead rely on headlines and/or posts on social …

On Grace

Tuesdays and Fridays are my favorite days because I get off work at around 4 o’clock, which means that I still get to see the sun. With my full schedule this semester and the wintertime, I’m realizing more and more how sunshine is a privilege. I relish every opportunity that I get to bask in the warmth of the sun in 30-something-degree weather. On my walk home, I pass by a nearby public school. Besides the afternoon sun, I see children in their uniform—navy blue polos and matching skirts or pants, high socks, and different iterations of scrunchies or basketball shoes. Their tiny hands inside larger hands that belonged to someone walking alongside them. Sometimes, they would walk in groups to the metro station, presumably to go home. The train becomes lively with their laughter, their banter, sometimes their mischief. And for a moment, I’m reminded of my past life before I embarked on this journey to follow my dreams in the capital city. A year ago today, I was analyzing data from the midyear …

Papa

On Father’s Day I noticed that every year I stumble upon the same photos of me and my dad that I’d post for Father’s Day. My dad lives in Indonesia, and the last time I saw him was last summer. I still couldn’t find many pictures of us together. Then I realized that the reason why he isn’t in the picture is that he’s always taking the picture. Whether it’s an iPhone, a Chinese iPhone (“Xiaomi a better iPhone!”), a Canon 5D Mark II, or a Fujifilm, he’s the man behind the lens. I remember the first time he formally introduced me to photography. He bought me my first Canon D-SLR: a 550D (in the US it’s called a Rebel T2i). I remember how he first taught me to use portrait mode. Before teaching me how to compose a photograph, he had made all the necessary changes so that the default setting makes for the perfect picture—brightness, contrast, and all. That’s the kind of person that my dad is: instrumental, yet humble. He always ensures that …

When the Universe Speaks

It has been a long, hard school year. Since August 2017, I have had four posts sitting in my drafts. Truth be told, I’ve been living almost a double life and telling truths only to a select few, and it hasn’t been without its challenges. I knew I would be leaving the classroom at the close of this year. Sure, my Teach for America contract is only for two years, but the decision wasn’t made as easily or as quickly as you’d think. At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, I felt that I had thrived in the classroom. I found joy–I had students that were as invested in my class as I am in them and in the work; I had administrators, coaches, and colleagues who supported me and lifted me up throughout my first year. I contemplated staying for a third year because I wanted to see how far I could go. An additional year to study for the LSAT would be nice, too. At the time, I was set on law school as …

Room 401, we meet again.

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.” —Aristotle On my first official day as a Duval County Public School employee (aka when I got my new email address), I wrote this quote in my signature. Email signatures are kind of my guilty pleasure (who doesn’t love a good email signature??), but it also served as a small reminder to myself. First, to remain humble because I studied philosophy in college and became a teacher by choice, which means that I have so much to learn. Second, to remember that philosophy is and always will be a big part of my life. Third, and most importantly, that in this work, there are simply things that I do not know how to do—no matter how many Professional Development sessions I attend, how many veteran teachers I talk to, how many books I read—until I do it myself. When I came back for my second year, I felt more at ease. And it wasn’t the kind of ease that …