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Hill Climbers: Intern Holds Down a Revved-Up Schedule

Massachusetts native learns the ropes in Tierney’s office

One of the great things about interning on Capitol Hill is having the evenings free to hang out in the city. But Eric Kashdan doesn’t have that luxury.

The new intern in Rep. John F. Tierney’s office has a truly packed schedule; working 9 to 5 in the Massachusetts Democrat’s office is only the beginning of his day. When other interns are heading out to enjoy their evenings, Kashdan, who is pursuing a double major in political science and international relations at Boston University, heads over to BU’s Washington campus, where he takes four classes a week.

After all that, you would think he’d want to kick back on the couch at BU’s Woodley Park student residence — but instead he’s been using what little free time he has to explore D.C. on long runs, up the Lincoln Memorial steps, Rocky-style, for example.

A shadowing day at Saugus High School when he was assigned to state Rep. Mark Falzone, then his representative in the Massachusetts General Court turned on a light bulb for him.

“By the end of the day, he had actually convinced me to work on his re-election campaign,” Kashdan said.

That marked the beginning of a slew of internships that led him to Capitol Hill. The summer following Falzone’s unsuccessful re-election campaign, Kashdan was back in the General Court working for Democratic state Rep. Theodore Speliotis, the representative from the town next door.

“It was the dynamics and the atmosphere of being in the state house that really pulled me in,” he said.

After that it was on to state Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, where Kashdan was a mediation intern, helping businesses and consumers that had filed complaints with Coakley’s office.

As an intern on the Hill, Kashdan now writes memos, answers phones, summarizes hearings, gives Capitol tours to constituents and supports the full-time staff as they go about the business of policymaking.

“It’s not an internship where I’ve gone out and gotten people coffee — and I would do it if I was asked — but I’m happy that that’s not something I’ve been asked to do,” he said.

And it’s been an eye-opening experience for him, too. “Being from the North Shore area in Boston for 21 years, I’ve grown up in, admittedly, a fairly liberal community,” he said, “but some of the mail I’ve been reading, it just shows how diverse the representative’s district really is.”

As for running for office himself someday, Kashdan says, in true politico style, that he isn’t ruling anything out.

Amid all the partisan bickering in Washington, it’s easy to forget the bright-eyed, idealistic politicians in the making, wandering the halls of power, immune from the frustrations plaguing full-time staffers and members.

“Walking to the Capitol South Metro station on my way out, I just look behind me in the reflection on my phone and see the huge Dome. It’s pretty great,” he said.

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