by Linda Nguyen and Vince Kelsey
Over the past summer, two members of the Mitty Advocacy Project (MAP) interned at California State Assemblymembers’ offices. Sruthi Ramaswami completed a summer internship at Jim Beall’s office, and Alisha Dua interned at Joe Coto’s office. Sruthi Rawaswami and Alisha Dua hoped to bolster their two years of legislative experience working directly with their state Assemblymen. This professional experience would help them enhance their involvement in their communities and learn the steps it takes for legislators to formulate a stance on issues. I had the chance to speak with both Sruthi and Alisha, to gain a perspective their very interesting summer internships.
I was surprised to see how much trust Sruthi and Alisha were given as interns. Sruthi and the other interns read and sorted constituent letters and entered them into the Legislative Constituent Management System (LCMS). They were also doubling as research assistants and would invest hours reading and creating reports on current bills and recently passed laws that were turned into Assemblyman Beall. A particularly challenging job was answering the phones from constituents in Beall’s 24th district. During her internship, she had the opportunity to work with the District Office Staff, the Capitol Office staff, and occasionally representatives from non-profit organizations.
Sruthi even recalled how on the last day of her internship, she accompaned the Deputy Director of the office to a meeting with representatives from local abuse and therapy clinics. They discussed a new ten-step system for diagnosing and treating patients. She “found this meeting to be very informative, [having] never been in such a professional environment before.”
As for Alisha, she had many similar tasks that included inputting data into the legislative system and writing letters for the office. The highlight of her internship was when a summer camp for underprivileged children came by the office for a day to learn more about the work involved with running a legislative office. Overall, she says, “I got learn and truly understand the inner workings of an Assemblymember’s job, and was able to gain an appreciation for the work and hours they put into making our community better.”
Now that Alisha and Sruthi have finished their respective internships, they have plans to keep in touch with the District Offices. Alisha has already taken the initiative to become a member of the San Jose Youth City Council. In addition, she is planning to continue working with Joe Coto on his upcoming senatorial campaign and broaden her knowledge through future internship and service opportunities. These internships also influenced their stances on what could be potential career paths. These internships allowed them to expand their horizons and gain experience that will be useful when deciding particular fields of study in college.
Before they left, I asked them if they had any advice for students that may want to apply for such internships. Sruthi described how the spaces in the office fill up fast and are typically full by early June, so apply early! They both agreed that above all, you must have an open and positive mind, and even if you get stuck making coffee runs, it is a learning experience. She also recommends research on potential places of internships by visiting legislators’ websites and finding local offices. Prepare a resume by using sample resumes that can be found online or asking an adult for help. Follow up by phone or email because communication is key. After some interviews and applications, you can be an intern at a legislative office!