More than serving orange juice: Ortega student enjoys Washington internship

More than serving orange juice: Ortega student enjoys Washington internship
Liza Bishop

At a time when so many college students have had summer jobs or internships cancelled due to COVID-19, Liza Bishop of Ortega, a rising junior at Catholic University in Washington D.C., is spending her days on Capitol Hill serving as an intern at Florida House, a nonprofit, non-partisan state embassy that “works to connect, celebrate, and champion Florida to the world.”

Bishop, a graduate of the Episcopal School of Jacksonville, is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with a minor in anthropology. During the school year, she is involved on campus with the Student Philanthropy Council, an organization where she serves as vice president of administration.

“My time on Capitol Hill has been both interesting and rewarding,” Bishop said in an email. “I’ve been able to have the full in-person internship experience (a rarity these days!!) at Florida House. After meeting so many Florida-based students who are interning virtually, particularly for Florida’s Congressional delegation, I feel honored and blessed to be in-person on the Hill.”

When Bishop first arrived at Florida House, she was tasked with the project of enhancing the visitor experience. “I, along with my fellow intern Grace Walker, who is also based in Jacksonville, decided to open a gift shop with Florida House merchandise.  In addition to the shop, I have been working closely with an ornament company to design a Florida House Christmas ornament for 2020,” she said.

Bishop has also been working independently to develop a guest sign-in process so the house can gather information about its visitors while making sure the guests are comfortable sharing information. She also began giving tours of Florida House after D.C. entered its Phase 2 reopening after the COVID-19 closures. “I really love giving tours of the house, and I especially love hearing people’s stories. People really are my passion,” she said. 

Another of her responsibilities is to join other interns in planning two virtual events per week via Zoom. The Tuesday program, called the “Experience Washington Series,” gives interns who have had their internships cancelled or moved online an opportunity to network with Washington D.C. professionals. “They have the chance to ask questions and learn more about the opportunities that are out there, opportunities they would have experienced if they could be in D.C. this summer,” she said, noting that guests on the program have included Tom Bowman, Pentagon reporter for National Public Radio, and Fernando Prieto, political advisor to the Spanish ambassador. Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Zoom program is called the Intern Seminar Series and features members of the Florida Congressional Delegation. Included in the series so far have been Congresswoman Donna Shalala, Congressman John Rutherford, Congressman Ted Deutch, Congressman Gus Bilirakis, and Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy. “It has been a fantastic experience to organize these events,” Bishop said.

“It means the world to me to have the opportunity to intern at Florida House. This internship has been so much more than I ever thought it would be. I’ve had the chance to meet some amazing people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I have also made friendships that I know will remain for a long time to come,” she continued. “Florida House has taught me so much about myself and has allowed me to grow both as a leader and as a member of a team. To be honest, I’m not sure what the future holds for me, but I do know that I am so passionate about all Florida House does, and I sincerely hope everyone has the chance to visit.”

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