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Students intern in the nation's political hub

Alyssa Ziegler

Alyssa Ziegler

An intern's life isn't all office work. Sure, a fair amount of mail sorting, fax retrieval and phone answering is part of the daily routine. But the perks more than make up for having to do "the jobs no one else wants to do," as UAlbany senior and Washington Semester participant Alyssa Ziegler has learned. The Washington Semester Program, which offers interns the experience of working in the nation's capital, "allows us to work three full days a week and attend class the remaining two."

Alyssa, who majors in political science and minors in Africana studies, interns in the office of Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). For Alyssa there have been some "pretty cool experiences" in addition to the daily assignments. "Recently, I was able to attend a hearing about space exploration on Mars, with guest speaker Bill Nye, ‘The Science Guy.' It was extremely educational, and a fun way to spend part of the day," she recalls. "I've also been assigned to a few continuing projects - mainly doing research and updating databases for various individuals in the office. Sitting at the front desk, we are also responsible for greeting guests and sometimes, this can be really exciting," adds Alyssa, who describes a recent visit from the Crown Prince of Jordan.

Charles Albanetti, a junior, also finds life in Washington fascinating. As an intern in the personal office of Congresswoman Rose DeLauro (D-Conn.), he spends "more than half the day" making photocopies, answering phones, and running errands. "Although these tasks may sound mundane," admits the political science major, who eventually plans to pursue elected office, "they allow a student to hear constituents' concerns and desires. They also provide a great behind-the-scenes view of politics in action."

"I think the internship will provide me a much better understanding of all the work a congressional office does..."Charles also goes to committee hearings and press conferences; in February, he attended hearings with Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld. "It is pretty incredible that, in just a few weeks in D.C., I am able to sit ten feet from the secretaries of State and Defense for more than two hours. It puts the idea of our democracy into perspective. I think the internship will provide me a much better understanding of all the work a congressional office does that the public doesn't see. This knowledge will always remind me to prepare myself for whatever I am about to do."

Adds Alyssa, whose plans include a public-sector job and possibly law school: "There are amazing opportunities on the Hill if you go out there and grab them. You get to witness the demands made on representatives, as well as the various interests that are represented. It is an extremely interesting process; it makes you realize the value of networking and appreciate the hard work our representatives put in every day to meet our needs."

Twelve other UAlbany students are also participating in the Spring 2005 Washington Semester.

Related Links:
The Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy
Department of Political Science
Washington Semester Program

Tell Us Your Story



Jeff Locke
Last spring UAlbany student Jeff Locke took part in the Washington Semester. This year he is an intern in British Parliament.

Jeff writes about what he's doing in London:

In London, no matter what time you rise, someone else has risen earlier. I typically start my days at 10 am, with either class or my internship with the British Parliament MP Barbara Roche. If it's a class day, then I attend a three hour lecture and seminar, where British students and their professors have all sorts of "rows" in courses about the Irish Troubles, Fall of the British Empire, and the British Health Policy and the National Health Service. I have to say the latter is my favorite course as that is what I want to dedicate my life to in the U.S. or abroad, and it's wonderful to learn the ins and outs of a national system from the inside.

My day goes to 5 pm, and if I am with Barbara, then that means either doing research for the coming national election at the office and releasing press statements, or traveling as her press secretary in a chauffeured car around London. We meet different members of her constituency, which is north London where I also live.

The intimacy of politics here is unlike the U.S. People come to Barbara with everything from housing problems and rubbish problems (trash), to her position on Iraq (she supports Blair's decision to go to war), and immigration (as she used to be a Minister of Immigration.)


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