U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn and Beacon College senior Will Finkelstein share a handshake in Clyburn’s South Carolina congressional office. Photo Courtesy Rep. James E. Clyburn’s office.
Nineteenth-century German leader Otto von Bismarck Laws had a way with words, particularly regarding governance. Laws, he said, “are like sausages; it is better not to see them being made.”
Yet, for Will Finkelstein, having an up-close-and-personal view of the often-messy process of American government was instructive.
Finklestein, 20, received that valuable opportunity through a legislative internship this past summer in the Columbia, SC. office of U.S. Rep. James E. Clyburn, who as Majority Whip is the third-ranking Democrat in the United States House of Representatives.
The internship was the fruit of labors by Beacon President George Hagerty and Tim L. Peckinpaugh, a Beacon parent and Washington, D.C. public policy attorney.
“I was very excited that I was able to get this internship,” Finkelstein said. “I had a feeling of gratefulness.”
The senior business management major worked the phones and worked on his biceps moving files and documents to storage during the 12-week internship.
For a lad raised on Southern hospitality, Finkelstein’s hardest adjustment was answering phones in formal, governmental phone-speak.
“The right way to answer the phone was to say ‘congressmen’s office’ then you have to write down [messages] or send them [the caller] to the right person within the staff in the office,” he said.
That struggled paled to the unique rewards. Finkelstein, for instance, enjoyed the behind-the-curtains peek at the American political machine that was a bit more involved than a “Schoolhouse Rock” installment.
“He was so proud to have such a powerful internship,” said Dorothy Garone, Will’s mother. “We believe it will have a far-reaching effect in his future.”
No matter how difficult the tasks, however, Finkelstein was up to the challenge.
“There is a lot of stress [involved in] trying to understand [the assigned tasks] as well as always be on one’s toes while answering phones and organizing papers in the right way,” he said. “Beacon College taught me hard work and how hard work is done.”
Indeed, through his summer congressional stint Finkelstein learned that life on his Beacon journey, as von Bismarck observed about politics, “is the art of the possible.”