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

Notes from the Field: Evelyn Weinstein '16

Article Type 
Student Intern: Evelyn Weinstein '16

Internship Organization: 
American Civil Liberties Union: Nassau County, NY

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The American Civil Liberties Union fights to protect the rights of all people within American borders through litigation, legislation, and movement advocacy. I work at the Nassau County chapter of the ACLU's New York branch. We handle region-specific problems so that we can work more effectively at the ground level.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
My specific role is to provide research work for NYCLU Nassau. This work is mainly project-based. I've completed two major projects so far: I went to court with Legal Aid to monitor an unfair judge and learn about the challenges that public defense lawyers face in Nassau County, and followed NYCLU's report on transgender student rights by researching and writing a presentation for school officials on how they can properly treat trans* students.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
On the first day of my internship, I felt tremendously excited to get to work. Working for the ACLU is truly my dream job. I was a little surprised by how small the Nassau County office is, and happily accepted its size as an opportunity to do a broader variety of work--which has certainly been true so far.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
The most rewarding part of the internship experience so far is the knowledge that every single thing I do makes a sincere difference in the world. From working alongside Legal Aid, to creating a presentation for educators on trans* student rights, to writing memos on Supreme Court decisions, I know that my actions are tiny steps towards a better world. I can't wait to start taking bigger steps.

What challenges have you faced so far?
Both of my two sisters had medical emergencies in the past few weeks. I was torn: should I stay at home with my sisters even if I'm not strictly necessary for medical tasks, or should I go to work instead? I spoke to my supervisor about it and he was happy to be flexible. As a result of discussing my worry with him, I've been able to take work from home on some days and take off days to visit my sisters in the hospital. Communication solved the problem.

Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
By the end of my internship, I hope to have helped my supervisor to launch a major new project. I would love to provide the overworked folks at Legal Aid with some assistance in gaining rules compliance from Nassau courts. Wish me luck!

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
If you're interested in doing something, always ask. The worst thing that can happen is that they say "no." Yesterday, the Manhattan office of the ACLU held a training on how the Freedom of Information Law works in New York--taught by the director of the Committee on Open Government! It's in a completely different office, and no one expected me to attend. But I asked to attend, followed up, and was able to learn about a great interest of mine while expanding my network.

 

 

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