The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Allison Liegner '17

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Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our Notes from the Field series. The Rockefeller Center helps students find, fund, and prepare for a leave-term internship experience in public policy research, public policy analysis, issue evaluation, or activities which help shape and determine public policy.

Student Intern: Allison Liegner '17

Internship Organization:
US Senate, Office of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) – Washington, DC

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
Senator Menendez serves the people of New Jersey and the greater American public in his capacity as a US Senator. He is the chairman of the Senate Council on Foreign Relations, where he represents US political and humanitarian interests as they relate to our policies. He has been a constant advocate for women, people of color, the LGBT community, and all other minorities throughout his time in Congress.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
I mostly deal with constituent work through mail, phone calls, emails, and so on. I also serve the entire office staff through delivering newspapers every morning, running basic errands between offices, and attending hearings.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
I felt nervous, but our program had a handbook that I could look at beforehand to orient myself with the landscape and my responsibilities. This was very helpful.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
My favorite part is meeting so many talented and motivated young people, working with them in the office, and learning about their lives as well as being able to see the inner workings of Congress and how officials interact with constituents and with each other. Learning the hierarchy of offices has been really effective in improving my understanding of how policy is crafted.

What challenges have you faced so far?
I had a lot of questions about what to do, question like how to work the mail sorting system, but we are lucky enough to have a very relaxed and friendly intern supervisor to help us.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
Just being able to get an inside look at how Congress works has been really eye-opening for me. However, learning basic skills like flag-requests and mass mail reading makes me appreciate our form of government and those behind the scenes that make it work.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
The Metro gets crowded exponentially, so leaving five minutes early can easily save you ten minutes. At my office, the air conditioner runs on high all day, so don't think that because it's hot outside you shouldn't bring a blazer. Make the most of your time and get to know everyone you work with.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences