Vrba Spends Spring Semester in the Statehouse


Written by Jo Thomas, Academic Advisor, Agricultural Economics

Hillary Vrba – (Junior; Applied Agricultural Economics; Libertyville, IL) has always wanted to learn more about the legislative process and public policy. While she had studied the subjects in textbooks, she felt like the only way she would really learn and understand the process would be experiencing it firsthand. Stepping out of her comfort zone, Hillary applied for an internship that would provide those experiences and much more. 

Hillary accepted a semester long position with the Purdue Government Relations team at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her position, government relations intern, involved a large range responsibilities including researching statutes, summarizing bills and tracking the legislative process. She also attended meetings with committees, legislators, staff and other lobbyists. Additionally, Hillary helped analyze relevant bills in order to determine their impact on Purdue University in the areas of education policy, tax and fiscal policy, agriculture, natural resources and public policy. Her position was also responsible in aiding the Purdue Governmental Relations team in obtaining over $100M in state funding for new capital projects, including a new veterinary teaching hospital. 

During her time as an intern, she was interested to learn just how tedious the legislative process can be. Prior to her time as an intern, she thought the process was relatively straight forward – create the bill, send it to the House and Senate, if it passes both chambers it would be signed by the governor and effectively into law. She has since learned that the process is much more complex, involving several steps including reviews, hearings, debates and amendments. “Even though the process might seem slow at times, I think this it is necessary in order to make the best possible decisions and so that different perspectives and viewpoints can be taken into consideration when developing a bill.”

Working as an intern in government relations, Hillary had the opportunity to strengthen a variety of professional skills sets. “One way I have grown professionally through this experience is by becoming more comfortable in a workplace/professional setting. At the beginning of this internship, I was very nervous, especially when meeting legislators and other important government stakeholders. But simple things like learning a proper handshake or how to dress properly can ease anxiety in these types of situations and build your self-confidence. Confidence is key.”



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