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

NOTES FROM THE FIELD MELODY FU '23

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Melody Fu '23 interned at the Office of Councilwoman Carlina Rivera at the New York City Council during the 2020 fall term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This past summer and fall, I worked for the Office of Councilwoman Carlina Rivera at the New York City Council. As a Policy and Budget intern, I worked primarily under the budget director to serve New York City's 2nd District, which includes East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill, and Rose Hill in Manhattan. On the policy side, my position allowed me to work with a team dedicated to numerous issues: housing affordability, small business survival, immigration rights, education equity, and more. On the budget side, this year was an extraordinarily exciting fiscal year. Due to COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, budget negotiations for the city were fraught with debates and disputes. For us, this meant making difficult decisions regarding nonprofit allocations in the district; researching and going over budget requests; attending committee hearings; and performing a yearly analysis of discretionary funding of the Schedule C budget in order to inform our Councilwoman's vote against approving the budget.

As someone who possesses a deep fascination for these areas, working for the Councilwoman's office strongly appealed to me. Through this opportunity, I have attended press conferences; talked to housing, immigration, and BLM advocacy groups; and been able to learn behind-the-scenes of the recently passed New York City budget for Fiscal Year 2021 that has been hugely publicized due to its involvement with both the Black Lives Matter movement and the NYPD. Councilwoman Rivera and my supervisors have been hugely inspirational and influential mentors, and I would recommend this internship to anyone looking to maximize their experience in the realm of public policy and public affairs. The intersection between working on both policy and budget matters aligned perfectly with my academic interests in government and economics.

Even with the challenge of a remote format, this experience allowed me to develop essential communication and organizational skills as well as cultivate my interest in public policy, advocacy, and legislation. By working in local government alongside a cohort of my peers from different colleges, I was able to gain valuable insight into micro-focused legislation and its direct impacts on citizens. It has been an amazing experience to be so involved with policy on a local and state level during a time when uncertainty is at an all-time high, and simultaneously at a time when the nation's eyes have been focused on the decisions and precedents of the New York City Council. For the six months that I worked for the Councilwoman's office, I have been able to communicate with constituents on a deeply personal level as well as conduct research on social/human rights issues centered around New York City, and these experiences have taught me indispensable skills that I will take with me for the rest of my time at Dartmouth. As a Government modified with Economics major, this internship fell perfectly at the intersection of both of my interests, and I can't thank the Rockefeller Center enough for allowing me to explore a path that I could potentially pursue in the future.

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.

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