Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our "Notes from the Field" series. Click here to read more about the Rockefeller Center's Internships program. To read the entire series, click here.
Student Intern: Kayla Wade '16
Internship Organization: Oregon Senator Mark Hass – Salem, OR
How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
Working in a state legislative office is a challenging and engaging experience. I am working in the office of Senator Mark Hass, a Democrat and Chair of the Education and Workforce Committee. His office is located on the same floor as the Senate Majority Office, the office of the Senate President as well as the offices of other Democrat senators. Because of this, I am constantly meeting an array of public officials and concerned citizens who always keep me on my toes.
What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
As a legislative aide, my main daily responsibility is responding to constituents' concerns. I spend a lot of time researching issues that are brought to the office's attention and drafting appropriate responses and suggestions that might help with the issue. This has been a refreshing experience as it has helped me learn so much about current issues in Oregon.
How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
My first day was during interim, meaning the building itself was pretty quiet. I spent the morning touring the capitol and meeting people from a variety of different offices. I felt extremely welcomed and it was great to see how friendly everyone, and how that didn't change after my first day.
What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
I really love how much I get to write in the office. I feel that writing, especially in the exact and expository manner that is required in government prose, is one of my strong suits, and I am very happy I get to utilize it during this internship. However, the most rewarding experiences tend to come from the exact opposite spectrum. That is, when a constituent contacts us with a problem, usually dealing with another government office, and I get to help them. It's a really great feeling to be able to help a single individual, even when it is something as simple as giving them the right number to call or the best person to contact.
What challenges have you faced so far?
The main challenge, which I have kind of already mentioned, was getting up to speed on everything that is happening in Oregon. Since I spend most of the year at Dartmouth, I realized I hadn't been keeping up on the goings on of my home state. There has been numerous times, where someone will mention a certain policy or recent event to me, and I will have no idea what they are talking about. I have really embraced the phrase, "Fake it 'til you make it."
What do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I hope to leave this internship with a better understanding of how and why things happen in state legislature and why the individuals who make those things happen do what they do.
What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
The parking and public transportation here isn't the best, and I find that to be the same with most big-but-not-major cities. I find it makes more sense to bike to work--it's cheaper and incorporates some exercise into my day. So, if you're interning in a city that isn't New York or D.C., seriously consider investing in a bike.