Internship Journal: Self-Advocacy
I believe I have advocated for myself on various occasions during my internship. During my first couple weeks, I advocated for myself to attend and sit in on meetings and luncheons, ranching in topics from Lobbyist money usage to California's drought to preschool education. I even got permission to make certificates of recognition for the 2014 ADL National Youth Leadership Mission San Diego Delegation, which I am a part of.
All that aside, I think the best example of my self advocacy is embodied in my internship project. From the beginning, I made sure that my colleagues knew that I wanted my project to be something that benefitted their office, and that it was not just something I did for school that they would forget about when I left. I informed my mentor that I loved controversy, and that some of my brightest strengths were my ability to communicate and speak publicly. I also made it very clear that I am horrible with technology, and as a result, came my Internship Project. For my project, I am working with two other interns, Dezza Vidrio and Naidelyn Hernandez, and we are working to produce a video on behalf of the office of Assemblywoman Gonzalez in support of AB 949, the bill that would turn competitive cheer into a CIF sport.
This project has taken more than ten hours of work after official hours, and I think the reason I am so willing to make that time commitment is because it's not a project I was just assigned; it's something my mentor, colleagues and I worked together to come up with, and I don't think I would be working on a project like this right now if it wasn't for my self advocacy.
"How to be an Intern Everyone Remembers" Advice
Three quarters of the way through my internship, I do believe I have followed the advice on the blog Dr. P provided for us, which you can find here. I have mad a conscious effort to ask for assignments or offering assistance once I have finished my originially assigned tasks, and the opportunities that have resulted from that have greatly enriched my experience.
I also have my own notepad that my mentor gave to me on the first day, and I have taken that with me to every meeting I have attended and have used it every time I have manned the phone lines. The notepad in my internship is the equivalent to my Write Club Journal in Dr. P's class; there is never a logical reason to not have it.
I was very adamant about getting to get to know my colleagues early on, positioning myself at the desk that was closest to my co-workers, instead of setting up camp in the much nicer, and much more comfortable, office of the Assemblywoman.
The only day I have been late to anything was today, when the trolley broke down and caused a 45 minute delay (and I was still only ten minutes late). Outside of that, I have been at least 15 minutes early to work every day and at least 5 minutes early to every meeting I have attended on behalf of the Assemblywoman.
Dress code, check. I have been in POL attire constantly, and not a single day has gone by where I am not wearing nice pants, dress shoes, a dress shirt, and a tie. I also have not worn the same thing twice yet, but that's more of a personal accomplishment that I am very proud of than it is evidence that I have tried my very best to be a professional intern.
College and Career Connections
The first thing I feel I need to say in this blog post is that I plan on going to college for and pursuing a career in the sciences, with my three main interests being aerospace engineering, virology, and nuclear physics. I chose this internship because I have always had a very deep interest in the inner workings of government and politics.
A lot of the work I have been doing I have really enjoyed. I really like writing letters of congratulations or recognitions, and now I have first hand experience with professional letters. That should help me when it comes time for college applications, as well as for when I become a working professional and have to reach out to individuals via letter. This internship has also reassured my belief that I want a career that will require a lot of teamwork and collaboration. So, while my internship is not in the field of science, I feel that it has been a very useful and real experience that will come in handy at some point.
What I have assured myself of now is that if I did pursue a career in politics, I would want the Assemblywoman's job, not the job of any of her staff members. This is not a knock on any of the incredible people I have been working with over the past weeks, but I've realized that I would want to be the one debating and literally fighting for policies, not so much spreading awareness about and gathering public support for the policies.
My Internship Project
For my Internship Project, I will be working with fellow interns Dezza Vidrio and Naidelyn Hernandez to produce and film a video in support of AB 949, a bill that Assemblywoman Gonzalez coauthored and is currently proposing to the State Legislature. AB 949 would turn competitive cheer into a CIF sport, which would allow high school cheer teams to basic safety and resource requirements. As cheer currently stands, there is no training or certifications that coaches have to go through, there are no cheer competitions except for private teams that you have to pay up to $1,000 a month to be a part of, and high school cheer teams get no help from their schools with practices or equipment. To produce this video, we will be interviewing cheerleaders, school administrators, parents, cheer coaches, as well as athletes of other sports, and then will compile their responses into the video that we will then send up to Assemblywoman Gonzalez's offices in the capitol.
To make this project awesome, I am going to have to learn how to focus a camera, and always keep in mind the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is something that our mentor taught us about that is crucial when filming. Essentially, the Rule of Thirds says that if you divide the camera screen into thirds horizontally and vertically, whatever it is that you want your audience to focus on (in our case, we want people to focus on the interviewees) should be placed at the location where the division lines intersect. I am also going to have to continue to collaborate and interview the way that I have been doing since freshman year.
For this project to be successful, I am going to have to be extra conscious of time, because I have to make sure that I am not late to any of the interviews we have scheduled. I am also going to be relying heavily on Dristay Torres, a fellow intern from Georgetown University, that has volunteered herself to help us get from place to place when conducting our interviews. I will also be looking to Francine Maigue, our mentor, for guidance and critique, not only during the process of the video production, but also of the final product.
This interview was conducted on May 4, 2015, prior to our internship beginning.
What is your job title?
- I am the district director in the 80th district of the California state assembly
How long have you been working for Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez?
- Lorena Gonzalez was elected in 2013 and I began to work for her shortly after. I started off as a part time field directive and moved my way up.
What is the most difficult or challenging part of your work?
- Trying to help people with immediate needs and trying to empower them long term.
What does it take in order to be successful in this career?
- One of the main aspects to be successful in this career is passion for assisting people. You also need to be able to do a lot of research to gain knowledge on what people go through. Our job is to remove barriers in order to have people succeed, and because there are 80 districts there is a different population within every district that face different challenges.
What qualities do you look for in a good worker?
- Someone who is collaborative. Our team is tiny but mighty, so everyone works closely together in order to meet deadlines. Different people have different strengths and weaknesses so they fill in the gaps where it is needed.
What should I bring everyday when I begin interning to be prepared and what will we be doing on a daily basis?
- Most importantly you should come everyday with an open mind and positive attitude. We will take care of providing all materials that are needed to you guys. There are many different things that you can be doing while interning with us. We can accommodate your work depending on our interests, but a few examples of what you could be doing would be writing letters to a school group who did a good job working with them on something or helping plan out a meeting or fair that we will host.
What can be done in advance to be ready for internship as soon as we arrive?
- Research a lot about what we do and who we serve. In order to get something out of this internship you need to take initiative.
Extra Info: They will be having a small business workshop May 29 and a festival May 15 that we can attend.
Part I: Week One Internship Selfie
Part II: Internship Journal
I think one of the reasons that I feel so comfortable at my internship is because the workspace feels so familiar. In the office it is all about teamwork, helping each other out, and understanding that you're always there to assist anyone that needs assistance; things that are very common in High Tech High projects, and classroom life in general.
Today I got to sit in on a meeting between my mentor and individuals involved in education that wanted to ask for the support of Assemblywoman Gonzalez in their push for easier access to preschool for children all across the state. I thought it was really interesting because their pitch was extremely similar to pitches that I had to make in presentations every year of high school, and because of that I felt like I knew what to look for, and what pieces of information were critical to their argument.
I was also invited to attend a luncheon with one of my colleagues tomorrow called Spirit of the Barrio, where several prominent members of the community will gather to discuss California's and San Diego's drought, which I am really looking forward to attending.
I love my internship for many reasons, one of those reasons being my daily commute. I walk from my house to the bus stop three blocks away, where I take the bus to the H Street Transit Center, and then jump onto the Blue Line that takes me to Downtown, and then I walk to the office on Front Street. Taking the trolley into Downtown makes me feel like a member of the real world, because you get to see parts of the city that you otherwise would never see, it forces you to interact with other people, all of them complete strangers, and has helped me tremendously with my sense of direction and flexibility in getting from Point A to Point B.
My favorite part about the trolley is that since I am taking it into Downtown, there are several different stops that I could get off on, and still get to work in a timely fashion. If I feel like really exploring the center of the beautiful city that I call home (like I did on my first day), I can take the Imperial Ave exit and walk the mile and a half that takes me past Petco Park, the Library, and many other Downtown landmarks. If I want to see what type of construction is going on, I can take the America Plaza exit, at the center of San Diego's business district, and 6 blocks away from work. If I don't feel like walking at all (like today that it was cold and cloudy), I can take the Civic Center Exit, that is two blocks away from the office.
My first impressions about my workplace are very positive. From the very first hour, we were doing work that was meaningful and relevant to the work they actually do. The first thing that struck me about my workplace was how comfortable and open the office is. Some of the interns actually worked from the assemblywoman's computer in the assemblywoman's office (because she is in Sacramento right now), and the rest of us got a desk with a computer to work from. I also really like my new colleagues. On my first day, they were more than willing to answer any and all questions that I had for them (and there were quite a few), and were incredibly helpful in offering me advice and feedback on the work I was doing.
I have to say that what strikes me most about the work that I am doing is it feels so official. We spent the entire day formatting certificates and writing their language, writing letters on behalf of the Assemblywoman and her offices, as well as manning the phone lines and interacting with the Constituents of California's 80th District. I never thought that formatting certs would be so time consuming or headache causing in my life, and now I really appreciate every certificate I have ever received even more. Until I was asked to do it, I never really thought about the fact that someone had to write and print the certificates I received. Now that I was on the other side of it, I have a newfound appreciation for the people that did.
I am extremely excited about expanding the type of work that we are doing. It's only been one day, but so far I absolutely love my internship! Aside from continuing to expand my workload and realm of work, I am really looking forward to meeting the Assemblywoman, finding more delicious places for lunch in Downtown, and exploring my city on my commute to and from work, as I am taking public transportation and walking.