“There is a quote in The Lorax: ‘Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’”

Dave Fishman,’18, an intern in U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy’s office in Washington, D.C., recalls the line by Dr. Seuss as he tells the story of a mother and five-year-old daughter who brought a copy of The Lorax to the congressman’s office.  

“That is a message to all politicians in today’s climate — and all leaders — to act deliberately. It resonated strongly with me,” says Fishman.

Like many Jepson School of Leadership Studies students, Fishman hopes to affect change through his career, whether it is in government or in the private sector. He says that his Jepson Internship experience on Capitol Hill is a test-run for one potential career path.

“Just to be in the mix in D.C. and contribute this summer has been a privilege. My work at the Capitol has left me with the flexibility to truly explore what is interesting to me, to ask questions about others’ experiences, and to follow a strong example of leadership in Congressman Kennedy,” says Fishman.

The Massachusetts native, who has long been interested in politics, was already familiar with Representative Kennedy’s work before this summer.

“I was particularly intrigued by Congressman Kennedy’s work on and commitment to mental health and other social justice issues, which strongly overlapped with much of the volunteer work that I have done throughout college,” says Fishman, who credits the Jepson School with strengthening and furthering his commitment to social justice and advocacy that was instilled early on by his parents.

As an intern, Fishman takes phone calls from constituents, compiles daily press clippings, and has opportunities to draft response letters on the congressman’s behalf and attend briefings and hearings. These experiences have helped Fishman sharpen both his writing and research skills, but even more so, working on Capitol Hill has given Fishman a chance to hear people’s stories, which he says has been the most rewarding part of his internship.

“Whether they are constituents, staff members, or Capitol Police, everyone has a story,” says Fishman.

Listening comes with challenges. Fishman points out, “Sometimes ‘we are trying our best’ isn’t a good enough answer for those who demand tangible progress during a time when no one can seem to agree on everything.”

Fishman says that in working in Congressman Kennedy’s office this summer, he has seen and learned more about proximate and empathetic leadership that seeks to serve with positivity.

“Working in the Capitol has put me at the tip of the spear of the federal government, where I actually believe that I am making a difference on a daily basis and am part of something bigger than myself,” says Fishman.