An intern learns the ropes in Juneau

By Brenda Hannah
Special to the Sun Star

As a business major, I frequently scour the bulletin boards at the School of Management seeking any opportunity that may lie in wait there. I am wise enough to know that opportunity usually only knocks once and often speaks in a small voice. Therefore, I have learned to read the fine print.

One day last fall I noticed a flyer that read “Legislative Internship”. Naturally, I stopped to learn more about this prospect. The flyer described a spring internship in Juneau working for legislators. The selected candidate would earn 12 college credits, travel expenses, and a stipend to cover living expenses during the session.

As a non-traditional student, I could not afford to let this opportunity pass. I had one week to gather several letters of recommendation, transcripts, and the required information to submit my application. By January, I had been selected as a legislative intern for the University of Alaska. I was on my way to Juneau—I was totally stoked!

In addition to my placement as a legislative intern in the office of Senator John Coghill, I also attended an internship seminar that integrated the internship with the academic perspective on the legislative process and Alaska politics. In the class, I am responsible for writing several papers during the course of the semester. As a source of information for my research papers I have utilized the most valuable resource available to me, personal interviews with the senators and representatives. So far, I have interviewed Governor Sean Parnell, three senators, and ten representatives. I have found them to be very gracious. I am very encouraged by their attitude of “we are here to serve.” In spite of their busy schedules, they are more than willing to speak with interns trying to understand the legislative process.

Since arriving in Juneau over a month ago, I have been involved in a whirlwind of activity. I have attended many receptions and events designed to create interest in current issues in Juneau and to promote funding for various programs.

This experience has given me valuable insight into the political arena and I have seen, first-hand, the workings of the legislative process. I would highly recommend this opportunity to be a legislative intern to any student who may be interested in learning more about the political process. An internship is the best way to be introduced to Juneau. The people here are working to improve the quality of life for their constituents. I am truly grateful to be a small part of that process.

I am honored to serve a legislative internship from the University of Alaska. The 12 college credits that I earn will complete my minor in Leadership and Civic Engagement.

We have just passed the 40th day of the legislative session and this experience has been the capstone of my collegiate career. Maybe next fall I will get an internship in Washington D.C.

Reports from Juneau: This is the first in a series of opinion pieces by students who are participating in the legislative process. Brenda Hannah is a business major spending the semester in Juneau as part of the UA Legislative Internship program.

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