For history and political studies major Omar Hajajra ’18, working in the heart of the nation’s capital this summer was his “dream internship.” As an intern for New Hampshire’s U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, Hajajra assisted senior staff, completed clerical duties and, most importantly, was on the frontline of communication with Senator Shaheen’s constituents.
Politics is Hajajra’s passion — before interning for Senator Shaheen, he interned for NextGen Climate, a political action organization advocating for renewable clean energy. On campus, he’s active with initiatives that make a positive impact, such as Sustainability Core and Feed the Freezer. Hajajra is considering a career in law, diplomacy, international development, conflict resolution or public policy.
Colby-Sawyer helped make his dream come true by awarding him a grant funded by Jean Cragin Ingwersen '54. The grant helped Hajajra, a resident of Plainfield, N.H., defray some of the costs of living in D.C.
Did your course work and studies help prepare you for this job?
When I send evaluations of my internship to my Colby-Sawyer supervisor, I regularly mention something I learned in an introductory politics class or applying concepts and theories I explored in other liberal arts classes. The education I received at Colby-Sawyer is not only academic, but also experiential. I feel well-equipped with the tools I have from Colby-Sawyer to thrive in such a professional environment. It is also a place of amazing networks, and connecting with people is a valuable skill I gained from my time at Colby-Sawyer.
Can you tell us about what you have enjoyed most at your internship? Describe your best day on the job.
My most enjoyable day was Experience New Hampshire, an annual event hosted by Senator Shaheen. Senator Shaheen showcased New Hampshire’s small businesses to hundreds of attendees from around Washington D.C. We carted a giant moose, Max, and a black bear, Kodak, in the halls of the Senate. We also enjoyed our time with other Granite Staters and visitors from the Hill — it was so exciting telling stories about the different New Hampshire towns we come from.
The best day award, however, goes to the day I shadowed Senator Shaheen, which I wrote about on the senator’s Facebook page.
What have you learned and what skills have you developed during your internship?
This internship has undoubtedly developed and improved my professional skills. Working with senior staff, committees and even running errands all takes focus and active listening and retention of information and instructions. As interns, we have the opportunity to work on projects for staff that require research and skill to present them in a concise and a direct manner. While we get downtime to socialize, interns are otherwise engaged in a professional working ethic and environment throughout the day.
What has this experience taught you about yourself and your field of study?
Interning here at the center of American — and global — politics reaffirms to me why I love studying history and political science at Colby-Sawyer. Most people might find abstract connections between their internships and what they learned in the classroom, but for me there is a direct link between the concepts I learned at Colby-Sawyer and my job as a U.S. Senate intern. I find myself using classroom knowledge every day, whether in discussions with staff or interns, a project I am working on, or in processing the roots of highly controversial legislation or U.S. policy changes.
I am learning more about how to be an agent of change, and to look for opportunities everywhere to find and do what I want to do — make the world safer and better. This internship, and Colby-Sawyer College, have both taught me that ambition has no limit.