UAlbany Students Get Inside Look at State Government Through Legislative Internship Program

UAlbany student interns join for a class photo on a set of stairs inside the Legislative Office Building.
UAlbany student interns join for a class photo inside the Legislative Office Building. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

By Liliana Cifuentes

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 23, 2024) For decades, the University at Albany’s partnership with the New York State Legislature has opened doors for student interns who wish to receive hands-on experience surrounding the world of politics.

This year, that partnership remains stronger than ever, with UAlbany representing the majority of students in the internship program. 

“Out of 99 possible positions, we had 58 UAlbany students selected for the Assembly,” said Sarah Murphy, an academic coach for experiential learning at UAlbany’s Minerva Center for High Impact Learning. “For the Senate, we had 22 out of 29.”

The program, which is open to juniors, seniors, and recent graduates, gives students the chance to work directly with a designated state senator or assembly member. Instead of attending classes on campus, interns earn 15 academic credits and a stipend, which is paid bi-weekly. Students work full-time, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., completing research and administrative tasks like drafting memos, assisting with debate prep, and more.

“Any one of them can one day become a future legislator in Albany,” said NYS Assemblyman Keith Brown ‘90, who interned with former NYS Senator Norman Levy while at UAlbany. “They’ve seen from inside how this place works, and that’s invaluable.”

Daniella Ogbonna, a junior representing Assemblywoman Taylor Darling and recipient of UAlbany’s Stanley Fink Scholarship, couldn’t agree more. 

Since attending UAlbany, Ogbonna has worked multiple jobs unrelated to her career aspirations while also being a full-time student. 

Daniella Ogbonna picks up a phone call from her office.
Daniella Ogbonna handles a phone call from her office. (Photo by Patrick Dodson)

Therefore, when the internship presented itself, she wasted no time accepting the offer. 

“You can’t learn this stuff in a classroom,” said Ogbonna, a dual major in psychology and sociology. “Being in an environment where you can actually do these things and see their impact has been transformational.”

During her tenure, Ogbonna has championed for more Black and Latinx educators to be teaching in schools across New York. She has also called for the inclusion of more Black history in high school curricula. Currently, she’s working on drafting a mock bill regarding these issues that may be implemented in the NYS Legislature.

After she graduates, Ogbonna hopes to become a lawyer and help communities who often have trouble speaking up for themselves. For her, it’s personal.

“I want to come out of this and help people that were once me,” said Ogbonna, who moved to the United States from Nigeria. “I want to be able to advocate for people the best way that I can with the knowledge that I have.”

Ogbonna’s relationship with the program is one that’s felt by the assembly members who participate in the program. 

“I see a lot of myself in them,” said Assemblymember and UAlbany alum Kenny Burgos ‘16. “Whether or not they choose to be in government, I believe this internship has a huge ability to be impactful in their future careers.”

For more information regarding the legislative internship program, visit here