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

Notes from the Field: Matthew Robinson '15

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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: Matthew Robinson '15

Internship Organization: ACLU Foundation of Southern California – Los Angeles, CA

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The ACLU of Southern California preserves and defends the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution through public education, lobbying, and impact litigation.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
Working within the communications department, I reach out to reporters to inform them of upcoming ACLU events, such as press conferences and legal action. I field media calls from reporters who are seeking interviews with staff members, compile media contact lists, research for attorneys, and write articles for the website.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
I felt comfortable as everyone in the office, including other communications interns who had been there for a couple months, was very welcoming and friendly.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the thousands of unaccompanied Central American immigrant minors who have crossed into the United States, arguing that they have the right to representation in immigration courts. To help the attorney working on the case, I created a timeline marking our nation's immigration law throughout its history. The timeline was then posted on the website.

What challenges have you faced so far?
For a two day period near the beginning of the internship, I had minimal work. Consequently, I went to my supervisor's office and asked for more responsibility, which she was happy to give me. Specifically, she gave me more research opportunities.

What do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I hope to confirm whether or not I want to become a lawyer.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
Never use LA highways during rush hour. The traffic is suffocating and demoralizing.

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