Author’s Note: None of the opinions expressed in this article reflect the view of my employer.
Throughout my life, I have benefitted from the excellent education I have received through some tremendous teachers. Whether it was when to use a comma or proofs in geometry, I have become a better student because of their instruction. However, the words and lessons of some teachers have impacted students like me to the point where we adopt a new perspective because of them.
While living in Virginia, my English teacher, Ms. Hansen, gave my 8th-grade class an essential piece of advice that I continue to hold today. She advised all her students to find a career path that was exciting and rewarding to us as individuals.
Her advice, while simple, was not commonly heard in Fairfax County Public Schools, a school district known for their high academic rating and student stress. Although the other teachers were more interested in spreading propaganda about Ivy League schools and top-salaried professions, Ms. Hansen was more attentive to helping her students achieve meaningful, long-term success.
Her advice makes perfect sense; work is part of life, so why not try to make it enjoyable and rewarding? As mentioned in my recent article “The Case For Working a Summer Job,” teenagers have a lot to learn from working, including the possibility of discovering a career path that they are interested in and receive satisfaction from.
Taking this advice into consideration, I was fortunate enough this past summer to work as a Legislative Intern for Representative Michael Soter of Bellingham (Republican, 8th Worcester). This incredible opportunity excited and challenged me throughout the summer. All in all, my experience on Beacon Hill proved to be surreal.
Depending on whom you ask, the 240-year-old Massachusetts General Court may be a financially irresponsible legislative body or a refreshing model of what government should look like. Through my experience this summer, I came to agree with both statements.
Since I served as an intern throughout the Summer, I was able to observe the majority of the House’s debate over the fiscal year 2019 budget. The Conference Budget, totaling a whopping $43.1 billion, was overshadowed by the Speaker’s Greenworks bill which aims to combat climate change. The bill allows the state to borrow $1.3 Billion so that it can annually issue $100 Million in grants over ten years. While I am in full support of the bill’s efforts, the bill was also designed to maneuver around the state’s debt limit. Yes, we face a looming crisis in climate change, but fiscal irresponsibility doesn’t help us improve as a society. We ought to tackle the issues we face head-on concerning the financial integrity of our local, state, and federal governments.
In addition to assisting the Representative with the budget, I spent the majority of my time reviewing legislation and assisting with constituent services. Although only an intern with just 16 years to my name, the experience of listening to an individual’s view on a bill before our committee or assisting a constituent in connecting with an executive agency was rewarding to me. Although the government can have a bad reputation, seeing first-hand the impact our office and other agencies have on some constituents was thought-provoking and perspective-changing.
Nonetheless, there were also times where it was hard to swallow what I was witnessing. As citizens of the Commonwealth, we would like to think that our government is always fair and just, but it was sometimes difficult to believe that. In spite of some wrongdoings, it is important to note that the majority of elected officials across both aisles care about their communities and constituents. Attending countless events in-district, staying until late at night to finish work, holding office hours, the majority of elected officials do care about the well-being of their community and yes, even when you disagree with them.
My experience this summer also taught me a few other lessons. Traffic is bad. Despite our departure at 6 am each morning (I carpooled with my father who works in Boston) we would often merge with the first stream of Boston commuters just to sit idle for half an hour or more.
However, the real adventure of my morning commutes began closer to 7 am when I separated from my Dad at the Coast Guard Sector in the North End and headed to the State House on Beacon Hill. Often consumed by tourists, the North End is not the ideal place to travel through if you’re not a fan of stopping for a family photo or glancing at a map every few seconds. However, to my benefit, Italian eateries are not famous for their breakfasts which kept Hanover Street relatively bare of tourists.
My internship this summer has taught me a great deal. I met some interesting people (i.e., former Governor Dukakis, Governor Baker, Bruins Defenseman Charlie McAvoy) and learned quite a few lessons along the way that I would not give up for anything.
The internship has made me value public service and recognize that while many hard-working government employees go unnoticed and unappreciated, their service is essential to society. While I was already planning on pursuing a career in public service this summer confirmed my aspirations.
I encourage all my classmates to explore a career field next summer. Maybe you’ll enjoy it; perhaps you won’t, but you’ll never know until you try.