My second co-op combines two varied experiences. I am interning at Columbus City Hall for Councilmember Michael Stinziano and I am a constituent liaison for State Representative Brigid Kelly. They are both elected officials who help make decisions affecting the areas they represent. As for their missions, I am going to quote Stinziano from a lunch conversation we had. He asked me what my mission was and I replied, “To make this world a better place.” He had then responded: “See, I think every elected official wants to make the world a better place. Where we differentiate, is how we perceive what a better world means.”
I worked for Stinziano two years ago when he was a State Representative for Columbus and it was the experience that got me passionate in the direction of politics. I told him I looked forward to working with him again, and I am happy that co-op gave me the opportunity to do so. City Hall is different than the Statehouse in a few ways: There’s way less people working there, and it is more focused on Columbus and not Ohio as a whole. At the Statehouse, I was interacting with people from all of the the state. In City Hall, I am learning more in depth information about the history and standing of Columbus, my hometown. The places are different, but my work as an intern did not change much. I draft resolutions, constituent letters, gather signatures, run errands, and he keeps his office just as active as it was. This experience builds upon my educational goals of having an in depth understanding of the inner workings of City Hall, and making long lasting connections.
I have found it to be such an honor to apply my previous Statehouse internship experience to help Representative Brigid Kelly. She was newly elected, and just getting off the ground. When I started, I was the first intern she had. I told her a bit about myself, and work I thought would be good for me to start on. Much of my time has been spent creating constituent letter templates, creating constituent databases, and doing outreach. My goal was to create a good system that any intern could pick up where I left off and get started. After a while, she told me my new title would be constituent liaison instead of intern. I feel like I am doing a significant job helping her connect with her constituents, and furthering her chances of reelection. Beyond the work aspect, I have been able to get back in touch with some friends I made two years ago and applying what I learned last time to my current experience. These friendships have helped me understand more about local politics and get me excited about how I will work with them in the future.
Many of the challenges I have come to face have been solved by having learned how to ask for help when I need it. Co-op has helped me throw in my communication ability and overcome my nervousness. My first co-op experience was all brand new, whereas I have had to do similar work that I have been doing in this co-op in the past. I feel confident even though I run into assignments that I am unsure how to complete because I find that people would rather be asked clarification than receive poor work.
Overall, I can see myself returning back to this area of work once I graduate from Antioch. I am looking into being a legislative aide for an elected official, or possibly as a legislative service commissioner. I am still very open-minded about my future and hope to meet as many people as possible that would be interested in working with me in the future. Who knows, I could end up in a couple of places. I look forward to it.
Photo credit: Excel Management Systems, Inc. http://www.emsi.com/successes-1/
For my first co-op experience, I am in DC for the very first time as an intern/fellow at CCMC. CCMC stands for Communications Consortium Media Center and we help other nonprofits with their public relations via media to influence policy change. We have developed many campaigns on a centered around a number of issues here in the United States including: women’s equality, reproductive rights, the environment, and health care. The mission statement shared on CCMC’s website shares, “Communications Consortium Media Center seeks to influence public debate in ways that support individual rights, healthy families, cultural diversity and a sustainable environment. We believe collaboration among nonprofit groups sharing goals is an effective way to gain credibility and influence public policy. CCMC works to empower diverse and underrepresented communities to participate more fully in decisions affecting their lives.”
The mission statement was a mission I wanted to take part in. Currently, CCMC is primarily focused in on women’s issues and it was made sure that I had a strong passion for women’s rights before I was accepted into my position as an intern. I had to be comfortable being in a strong feminist atmosphere. I knew that I would be a great fit for the type of passion they were searching for. Since around the time I was fifteen, I began to take a strong interest in advocating for women’s rights, and overall support the empowerment of women around me. When I was seventeen, I interned for an organization called Dress for Success where I helped empower women in my community back in Columbus, Ohio reach economic independence. Outside the work atmosphere, I had been involved in many events, kept up with policy around women’s issues, and always tried to educate those around me on various topics around women’s issues.
Not one day is like another working at CCMC. As someone who likes to time manage, I am happy that I also have the ability to be flexible. I am given about four projects to work on at a time, I go to different events, and I run various errands. CCMC has challenged my media skills by having to use public relations platforms such as Nexis, Cision, and Emma. Other challenges have been doing things such as being able to download a speech from Youtube, edit the speech so only certain clips are included, and then put those clips together in a neat manner to be put in a presentation without instruction. On just my second day, I attended an event on Equal Pay Day where I watched actress Patricia Arquette and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney give speeches about the gender wage gap we have here in America. What I mostly do is I compile specialized lists of reporters who are writing about certain topics relating to topics that organizations that are working with CCMC want to make pitches about. What I enjoy most about this aspect of my job is that in the process of making these lists, I am becoming very knowledgeable on the topics I am researching. For the gender wage gap, for example, I had looked at over 100 articles about it and am now very well spoken on the manner.
CCMC overall has been a great opportunity to grow in comprehension of a number of issues, challenge my media and communication skills, and establish connections in DC for my future. I am currently majoring in Political Economics at Antioch College and think that CCMC is a good first step in learning how nonprofit organizations function and getting to know how to navigate DC as a center of politics for the United States and the world.