What was a typical week like in your internship position?
A typical week in the Maryland General Assembly as an intern involves a lot of phone calls, emails, and greeting people at the door. I would start off the day answering emails and writing different responses so that all constituents heard back from the Senator’s office in a timely manner. With phone calls I would go through the voicemail, send the appropriate messages to the chief of staff, and follow up with constituents via email or via a physical letter. Aside from the normal desk duties, I was able to greet interest groups, concerned citizens, and other advocacy organizations at the door to hear about what they were fighting for or would like to bring to the Senator. These relationships were not ones I was expecting, but was eye opening to hear from groups that I did not know much about.
What did you enjoy most about the position?
The best part about this position was being on the inside of the policymaking process and truly understanding how an idea can turn into real legislation.
How did your coursework help you in your internship?
My coursework, specifically learning about the structure of state governments, has helped provide background for this position. Although I am not from Maryland, I tried to do research prior to my start date about the different representatives and counties so that I would not be completely lost within the MGA. Additionally, my classes that involved writing brief memos and one-pagers helped with the writing duties of this job.
How did you locate your internship position?
I found this internship position both by the Public Policy school and the internship opportunities office of the Behavioral and Social Sciences School. I was able to be a part of Senator Elfreth’s office specifically from having had worked with her previously on an independent project my freshman year of college, and requesting to be placed with her office.
Advice for students:
Something I wish I did more thoroughly before interning at the MGA, which can be applied to any internship anywhere, was to do more in-depth research about the organization and more specifically, your boss. For example, the Senator I worked for represents Anne Arundel County in Maryland. This county has far more niche issues and priorities than other counties (Annapolis being the capitol, infrastructure concerns and fishing issues with the Chesapeake, etc…) Knowing what your boss has accomplished, is currently working on, and where they’re strengths lie can help with the transition and help you be more prepared when handed a task. Additionally, do not be afraid to ask questions! A lot of the time acronyms are being thrown around or they will ask you to run something somewhere, and most of the time I would have zero clue what was going on. It is better to ask a specific quick question in advance than be running around unsure of where you are going or who exactly you need to be speaking to.
Lastly, working with other interns I felt was the most stressful part of the job, especially if you are working with someone on alternate days and share tasks. Communication is not only between you and your superior, but with your peers. Many times issues can arise where you may not be on the same page as someone you are working with, and it is important to have consistent communication so that you can work in sync.