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Aggie Interns Get Practical Policy Experience In Washington, DC    

October 30, 2023

The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC
The US Capitol Building in Washington, DC

By Taylor Bounds

Over the summer, Garrett Cole ‘23 and Hope McFarlin ‘24 lived and worked in Washington, DC, as part of the Public Policy Internship Program (PPIP) through Texas A&M University. Established in 1999, the program aims to provide students hands-on opportunities to participate in policymaking. PPIP allowed McFarlin and Cole, both maritime studies majors, to combine their academic pursuits with professional work experience in the public policy sector. 

For his internship, Cole chose to work with the Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), which works to strengthen the global temperature-controlled supply chain, providing specialized cold chain advisory services.

“This work is vital for the safety and quality of perishable products,” said Cole. “From the point of origin all the way to the consumer, GCCA provides support at every step.”

Cole aided with several active projects under the purview of their International Projects team. Among these projects, Cole created a heat map showing the benefits of four different ports for a delegation from Central America, helped prepare training for farmers in Kenya and assisted with reports for the United States Trade and Development Agency. 

Cole’s most memorable project, however, was early in his internship. He was responsible for helping a client in Ghana scale up her cold chain logistics through GCCA’s donor partnerships. 

“I spent a day looking up active projects, programs and donors in the country, and then compiled this information into a document with a link to the websites, a brief description of what the project was about, and who was involved in each of them,” said Cole. “With only a brief read-through by my manager, this was entirely my work, and when we sent it to the client, it made me feel like I was making a real difference.”

Cole was offered an extension to his internship as a fully-remote, part-time position while he finishes his degree in Galveston. 

“Global Cold Chain Alliance helped craft my passion for international development and agriculture-related policy,” said Cole. “They have been really helpful in supporting my interests in different areas that I would like to focus on.”

McFarlin chose a different route, interning on Capitol Hill. She worked in the office of Congressman John Carter of Texas’ 31st Congressional District, working primarily on policy research and constituent services. 

Carter serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which is responsible for providing federal funding for items like national defense, homeland security, education and infrastructure. The committee controls about 40% of total federal spending each fiscal year. He serves as chairman of the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies subcommittee, working closely with the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As part of her internship, McFarlin sat in on several Appropriations Committee meetings, giving her a firsthand look at the inner workings of the committee. McFarlin got to know Carter’s senior staff members, as well as the staff for other members of Congress. She noted that their tight-knit working relationships kept things running smoothly for these highly influential congressional members, saying that it was an incredible experience to learn from and work alongside them. 

One of McFarlin’s greatest takeaways from her internship was how surprised she was about the scale of work done behind the scenes by staffers. “Staffers hold a great responsibility,” said McFarlin. “They do so much to help constituents and the district as a whole in so many different ways: policy research, constituent assistance, outreach events and a lot more. They have a huge impact on the community.”

McFarlin and Cole both said that their respective internships were an enriching educational experience, combining real-life policy work with the foundations they learned in the classroom. They also spoke about how much fun they had in the process.

When asked what her favorite part of the experience was, McFarlin said, “I loved every minute of it.”

Want to apply for Summer 2024? Find more information on the PPIP website. Applications are due November 1. 


Media contact:
Taylor Bounds

Texas A&M University at Galveston is the marine and maritime branch campus of Texas A&M University which educates nearly 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students in science, business, engineering, liberal arts and transportation. It is driving the development of the blue economy in the Gulf Coast Region and is a critical contributor to Texas A&M's rare land-, sea-, space-grant mission with nearly $10 million in research expenditures.

Texas A&M-Galveston is also home to the Texas A&M Maritime Academy, one of six state maritime academies and the only one in the southern United States, which trains over 400 cadets annually for maritime service and employment around the world.

Texas A&M-Galveston is located in Galveston, Texas on the Gulf Coast where it is surrounded by industry, environment and programs essential to fulfilling its special-purpose mission. Aggies are known for their deep commitment to the success of each other and their strong desire to serve.