by Jessica Chen
What made this summer the best summer? Was it my weeklong vacation in California or my weekend adventures outside of New York City? Nope; this summer was the best because of all the time I spent in my favorite city, New York. Interning in Council Member Margaret Chin’s office allowed me to explore Lower Manhattan and gained a unique experience that I would otherwise not have.
As an intern for Council Member Chin, I was able to travel between City Hall, 250 Broadway (the Legislative Office), and her District Office multiple times a day. District One is the best; everything is within walking distance!
As an intern, I learned firsthand about the work the in City Hall as well as the district office. I really enjoyed going to City Council meetings; from listening in on conversations between the council members to hearing testimony from advocates and the general public, this internship really showed me how city government works. One of my favorite things to do in City Hall was to be in the room during a stated meeting, which is when city bills are voted on. Because I was in the room when a bill was passed, I felt like I was experiencing a piece of City history.
Most of my time was spent at the District Office, working under the guidance of the fulltime staff. I learned so much about the district and the city as a whole. Through working with constituents, I learned about the different problems people in the district faced, such as housing, immigration, and even education issues. Not only did I learn about these issues, I learned how to deal with them as well.
Working with constituents really helped me improve my communication skills. Watching the staff members ask questions about a case made me realize that I had to dig deeper in order to get all the facts. Sometimes when constituents would describe their case and I didn’t know how to respond, Xiaomin, Linda, Patricia and even our new staffers Vincent and Yong would fill in with an appropriate response. In moments like these I am reminded that as an intern, I have so much more to learn, and am grateful to have the opportunity to do so.
Working with constituents and on special intern projects, I’ve learned so much through firsthand experience. I know so much more about issues faced by the City’s residents as well as the policies and proposals used to address them. After working for Council Member Chin’s office this past summer I feel like more of a New Yorker than I’ve ever been. I highly recommend interning at Council Member Chin’s office. It’s a great learning experience and has truly opened my eyes to the inner workings of city government.