For Nick Sanitsky, this summer will certainly be one for the books. As a legislative intern for Congressman Brad Sherman, Nick worked in close quarters with his hometown representative, providing invaluable research for a variety of bills in the Congressman’s pipeline. He also attended a historic hearing, ended up on the New York Times website, and found what may be his life’s calling. Not bad an eight week internship. We discuss all that and more in his summer profile.
What areas of public policy interest you?
I’ve been fascinated by the work I’ve been involved with this summer. Congressman Sherman is on the Financial Services Committee, the Science, Space, and Tech Committee, and chairs the Asia subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee. Truthfully, all three of his policy areas are of interest to me.
What does a typical day in DC look like for you?
A typical day consists of hazily waking up to an alarm and getting dressed in as few of my work clothes as possible, the rest of which I drape over my backpack as I commute. It’s so humid in DC, and being from LA, that is not something that my body is used to. I’m at work from about 8:45 to just after 6 pm. After that, I’ve been using my time to explore DC both personally and professionally. Some nights I attend Wharton PPI or Penn in Washington events, while other nights I’m out on the town with friends I’ve made in DC. I came here not knowing very many people, and it’s been great to meet people from all over the country who share my interest in politics and policy.
Have there been any surprises regarding living and working as an intern in DC?
I wouldn’t say that anything in particular surprised me, but many things are just more amplified than I expected. For example, the actual pace on the Hill: you hear about how things are bureaucratic and slow-moving, but it’s so fast paced, and there’s work being done all the time, even if legislation is continuously stalled. Also, I’ve just been pleasantly surprised by how wonderful DC is itself. I’ve found it to be, personally, an ideal city. The people have been wonderful, kind, and talkative, but also educated and politically engaged in a way that’s been really refreshing.
Name one object that you brought with you to DC that reflects your personality.
I’d have to go with my guitar. I rarely go anywhere without a guitar. I am a passionate musician and explorer of new music. I think it’s indicative of not only my work ethic but also my need for a creative, fulfilling outlet. It takes a lot of hard work to play guitar, and it’s something you only do because you enjoy it and find it enriching. I hope I mirror that with everything I do in my life.
In 10 years, what will you remember about living and working in DC?
I’m certain I’ll have a great, clear memory of sitting at the Mueller hearing. I showed up just before 4 am and used my intern badge to get in line. I was, however, about fortieth in line, and the first person who was cutoff from entry. But I made it in at a commercial break, luckily scored a great seat. During the thirty minute recess between the judiciary hearing and the intelligence hearing, I found my way into an even better seat. The next morning, there were screengrabs of me all over the place, from my morning newsletter to the front page of the New York Times website. You could really feel the gravity of the moment, not only of the hearing, but also in the era that we’re living. To feel the palpability of the history and to be so close to it was really special.
Give an example of an experience that signifies why you came to DC.
There was a moment where I was at the campaign office with the Congressman when he got called to a vote. As you may know, sometimes votes are sudden, and technically members only get fifteen minutes to cast theirs, so I actually drove the Congressman in his car so that he could get out quickly to make the deadline. On the drive, he shared some of his personal outlook of being a congressman, and the rush and the thrill of it. While I waited for him to finish, I stood next to a full-time staffer of another member. We just took in the view of the dome and discussed how lucky we were to be there and to be a small part of the inner workings of our country.
What is one tourist attraction or thing outside of work that you are excited about?
The African American History Museum. I had heard really wonderful things, but I couldn’t get a ticket so far out, so on a day off, I waited in line during a super, super hot day, and then spent a solid four or five hours immersing myself in the history and trying to gain perspective on the lives and stories of the people.
What does being an intern in DC mean to you?
As someone who came into Penn convinced he would be taking the finance route, being an intern on the Hill finally, for the first time, marked my pivot to politics. To me, it really felt like the start of my career. It’s the first time where I was meeting people and picking their brains, trying to figure out not only what within DC I wanted to do, but also confirming my desire to be in Washington and to be around the world of politics.