Through direct contact with constituents, research on actual bill proposals, and writing memorandums to Senator Chris Coons himself, these interns are doing work that matters -- and affecting the lives of Delawareans every day.

Intern: a title that seems nearly synonymous with “coffee runner” in most offices. Interns are often seen as the bottom of the food chain, with very little input into daily operations.

The intern experience with U.S. Senator Chris Coons’ office, however, seems to buck this trend. Through direct contact with constituents, research on actual bill proposals, and writing memorandums to the Senator himself, these interns are doing work that matters—and affecting the lives of Delawareans every day. We spoke to a few interns in the Senator’s offices about their experiences as valued members of the Senator’s staff this summer.

“I love the variety of the work in this office,” said Ahmad Abdulla in the Wilmington office. “The staffers do a great job in figuring out what you like, and then giving you relevant assignments. For example, I’m an Energy Policy major, and I work specifically on projects that involve the Senator’s environmental policy, like the Artificial Islands Project. But another intern, Olivia, prefers working with veterans, so she personally calls constituents to talk about their VA claims.”

Just like the work they are assigned, interns in the Senator’s office are diverse. They come from a variety of schools, from the University of Alabama to Virginia Tech to the University of Delaware itself.

The following is a list of all of the Senator’s interns this summer:

Ahmad Abdulla (Newark High School/University of Maryland),

Muhamadu Bah (Delaware Military Academy/Delaware State University),

Olivia Dimaio (The Charter School of Wilmington/Virginia Tech),

Ryan Dunphy (Saleisanum School/Villanova University),

Jessica Glass (Sanford School/University of Delaware),

Ben Greenburg (Tatnall School/University of Alabama),

Kylie Navarro (Cab Calloway School of the Arts/Georgetown University),

Phil Paverd (A.I. Dupont High School/University of Delaware),

Tim Rickert (Saleisanum School/Duke University),

Alaina Robinson (St. Thomas More High School/University of Virginia),

Leanne Voshell (Caesar Rodney High School/University of Delaware).

But all interns this year have one very important thing in common: they are all Delaware natives. They return home from college to make a difference in their own communities.

“It’s been great to work on real Delaware issues,” said Ryan Dunphy in the Wilmington office. “These constituents could be my neighbors, and the Senator’s staff goes well out of their way to make sure their needs are met.”

Senator Coons’ offices are unique in this way. Senator Coons encourages all of his staff to really delve into constituent issues, looking beyond the initial reason that someone contacts the office to the source of their problems. Often, there is a larger issue at hand than what constituents report, and the Senator’s staff works to find this problem, and do what they can to fix it. In this sense, being an intern at Senator Coons’ Wilmington office can feel like being a detective, sniffing out the issue and finding unique solutions to individual problems. And after conducting research, staffers sometimes ask interns for their personal opinions, and listen to what they have to say.

“I get to do real work, in a field that I’m actually interested in, and then give my opinion. It’s amazing,” said Alaina Robinson, an intern at the Dover office.

Perhaps this desire to have his interns do meaningful work comes from Senator Coons’ own experience as an intern.

When asked about his time as an intern for former U.S. Senator Bill Roth, Senator Coons said, “I remember being an intern well. Senator Roth did a tremendous job empowering his interns, and ensuring that they felt like their work was appreciated. I personally work to emulate his internship program, and let my interns know that our offices need them.”

The Senator takes a personal interest in his internship program. Each intern is assigned a “shadow day” to follow Senator Coons through a normal day of senatorial activities, which can include hearings, groundbreaking ceremonies, graduations, or town halls. When running between meetings, the Senator encourages his interns to ask any and all questions about his work. The Senator’s interns are looking forward to their own shadow days and are thinking of some tough questions, but still enjoying the daily work of the office for now.

“And the best part,” Phil Paverd in the Wilmington office adds, “is that I’ve never had to get anyone coffee.”

Info on internships

If you’re interested in interning for Senator Coons this fall, you can apply to the Wilmington office located at 1105 N. Market St. Suite 100 Wilmington, DE 19801. Applicants should contact Lynne_Phifer@coons.senate.gov for the application and deadline information regarding the Wilmington office.

To apply to the Dover office, located at 500 W. Loockerman St. Suite 450 Dover, DE 19904, applicants should contact Shavonne_Bailey@coons.senate.gov for the application and deadline information regarding the Dover office.