Rising Sophomore, Grant Wosencroft (Political Science major) completed an internship during the Spring 2023 semester with June Speakman as a Legislative Research intern. Read on to learn about his experience!
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What was your internship? This past semester I served as a legislative research intern for Representative June Speakman. For this internship I worked both on campus and at the State House for the Rhode Island House of Representatives.
Why were you initially interested in this internship? Rhode Island is and has always been my home. I have lived in the state my entire life. While my time here has afforded me the ability to experience some of the best that the state has to offer, it is clear that there is much work to be done. Ever since a young age I have always had an interest in public service, government, and ultimately politics. I think that my sense of duty largely stems from my family. I was raised by role models who always sought to help those around them when given the chance. I believe that I can best continue to help people in my community through expanding and sharing my knowledge of and passion for the American political system. This internship presented me with the opportunity to learn more about the legislative process and the issues that impact Rhode Island from the people who know these things best. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to take the job.
How did you find your internship? I had met Representative Speakman once or twice before I came to Roger Williams University. I had previously worked for a few months in high school as a legislative page for the Rhode Island House of Representatives. In order to fulfill one of the prerequisites for my major in political science I needed to take an Introduction to American Government class. I took this class my first semester of my first year at the university and Representative Speakman ended up being my professor. At the end of the course I inquired about internships and applied through the Rhode Island State Government Internship Program.
What did you do as part of your internship? I had several duties that I was responsible for keeping up with while serving as an intern. Tracking legislative items that the representative was a primary sponsor or cosponsor for was what a large portion of my work revolved around. Each Sunday and Monday I would compile my brief notes into a memo to keep the legislator up-to-date with sponsored and cosponsored bills as they progressed through committees. As an undergraduate student at Roger Williams University, I could not always be on Smith Hill. When I was on campus, I conducted research through library databases to find scholarly articles to contribute towards academic research that Representative Speakman was pursuing. Topics that I have researched included the influence and rise of policy czars in the United States and the complexities of implementing development impact fees in Rhode Island. Aside from the big picture research projects, I undertook some smaller, constituent-oriented issues on behalf of the representative. These small projects included researching environmental advocacy groups within the State of Rhode Island and gaining insight from Senators of the other chamber to learn about upcoming legislative items that the House of Representatives might consider in the near future. I was fortunate enough to be interning for the Vice Chairwoman of the House Municipal Government and Housing Committee. This particular session was captured by the apparent housing crisis that Rhode Island has been undergoing. Representative Speakman is one of the chief legislators on housing policy. Since this was made a clear goal of the Speaker of the House, there was a lot to be done. I was present for a great sum of committee hearings, including the hearing on the Speaker’s legislative package on housing policy. There were some days where I was working from the afternoon into the early morning hours of the next day.
Has this internship helped you work towards your future career goals? If so, how? This internship definitely has helped me to work towards my future career goals. I have become a more analytical person, and have improved my networking and interpersonal skills. I have immensely expanded my knowledge on the legislative process throughout the last few months. I have also gained valuable experience with some major issues that are facing Rhode Island.
What was your biggest lesson/takeaway from the internship? The biggest takeaway from my internship is that in order to make meaningful change in politics one must understand how to collaborate with various people and navigate systems. Change takes time and a lot of effort, but understanding who to talk to and how procedures work makes the process a lot smoother. There are many different voices and ideas in the democratic process. Policy has to be built around sound compromise of these competing ideas.
What advice would you give to someone interested in a similar internship opportunity? One piece of advice that I would give to someone interested in a similar internship opportunity would be to speak with professors within their major about opportunities they may know about. The Rhode Island State House has an office called the Rhode Island State Government Internship Program. Anyone can visit this office and there is also a website for more information. Find out when applications are due and apply as soon as possible. For those that receive an internship, make sure that you talk to everyone. Go above and beyond your duties as an intern. Be friendly, ask questions, and absorb everything while you can. Always represent yourself in a professional manner.
Want to share your experiences during an internship? Email Kevin (firstname.lastname@example.org) in the CCPD to learn more about sharing with us!