I am just about a little over the half-way point of my internship with Senator Gillibrand. I have learned more than I could ever imagine and have gained insight that I would not be able to receive in a classroom setting. The constituents that contact the casework department come from a variety of background, with differing amounts of knowledge of the powers of the government, and with a spectrum of needs they want the Senator to assist them with.
Working with constituents on their cases that usually impact their daily lives has challenged me to figure out how to best handle each situation in the moment. I have enjoyed collaborating with my team of co-interns who help me to determine what the best course of action is for dealing with difficult cases. When I receive difficult callers, I am forced to remain calm and ascertain the best way to diffuse the situation. After taking many of these calls, I am now much more confident in talking to all types of people that range in their emotional response.
My co-interns at the office are likeminded and passionate about public service. Sharing common interests has brought us close and I feel that I have established strong connections with my peers that I can rely on to help me in the future. My supervisor has also been a great resource. Her perspective has allowed me to see things from a different point of view and taught me how to process cases in the most efficient manner.
My supervisor has also assigned my intern team policy memos and briefs to give to her on issues in our portfolio. I learned more about how New Yorkers are impacted by housing regulations and human trafficking laws and how the laws vary from state to federal level. These issues are of particular interest to me and I’m glad I have had the opportunity to learn more about them.
This internship has allowed me to hone skills that can apply to any career I may have in the future. We recently had Senator Gillibrand’s Senior Advisor, Geri Shaprio, come share her experience with us. Mrs. Shapiro changed her career path at 59 and has worked for Hillary Clinton and Senator Gillibrand, committing the past 17 year to public service. One piece of advice she gave us was be able to speak truth to power. From a young age, girls are taught to be quiet and respect higher powers, especially powerful men. Mrs. Shapiro’s advice is something that will stick with me wherever I go because I know that if I want to be taken seriously, I have to give honest feedback to my superiors.
I look forward to the rest of the internship and hopefully meeting the Senator as she begins to attend several events in the New York area.