By Christian Ashe
Going back to school is no easy feat, but with the help of the Rebovich Institute, one graduate student was able to give himself a new start.
Former Marine, current graduate student and graduate assistant of the Veteran and Military Affairs Office at Rider, 46-year-old Thomas Reddington, impressed his two employers this summer during the internships he obtained through the aid of the Rebovich Institute For New Jersey politics.
Reddington interned at the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness in June and July, and then with the New Jersey State Police in August.
As Reddington soon found out, The New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJ OHSP) internship proved to be a fast-paced experience.
“On day one, there’s an orientation, and on day two they put you to work,” he said. “It is not your typical program. They already have a plan for you. I met my supervisor and had a cubicle of my own. I was surprised when they handed me a list of everything that I had to do for them.”
Working mainly in the Grants Bureau, Reddington’s list of duties had everyday tasks like making spreadsheets, but he also had to learn about how the government uses grants to fund those that need money to start their organizations.
One of Reddington’s duties at that internship was writing an executive summary, which is a summary of various grant programs across the state. He wrote one that his director ended up using in a meeting with the state attorney general and the commandant of the state police.
“I was told that I really did something of great significance,” Reddington said. “Before I left my internship, I was an expert on this subject and I had to train new interns that were coming in.”
Some of the highlights of Reddington’s experience at NJ OHSP were the field trips interns got to go on. They toured at the Newark office of the FBI and the Newark office of NJ OHSP. During these trips, he was able to network with professionals, in addition to learning what each office was responsible for and what their role is in government and for the state of New Jersey.
At his internship at the New Jersey State Police, Reddington said his military background helped him fit in easily.
“The best thing about the state police is that they have a strong tradition that is modeled after a militaristic atmosphere, so I feel like my experience in the military really helped me adjust quickly there,” he said.
It was hard for Reddington to leave the internship at the New Jersey State Police Department because they were prepared to hire him. However, he got offered the graduate assistant position for the Veteran and Military Affairs office, which he agreed to take.
“Rider helped me with my tuition for my remaining time here so it was a great incentive,” he explained. “Not only that, but I could also help those who are just like me to achieve a smooth transition.”
As a graduate assistant, Reddington helps former military members attending classes at Rider adjust to civilian life and also get acclimated to student life. He makes sure that they are aware of all the services at Rider and checks up on them to ensure their experience is going well.
Reddington recommends that anybody who wants to learn how to network, secure an internship and act in a professional setting should take Benjamin Dworkin’s Internship Guide Seminar.
Dworkin, the director of The Rebovich Institute, explained what the seminar does for students who take it.
“The Rebovich Institute compiles a Summer Internship Guide every spring,” he said. “We usually have more than 70 internship opportunities, covering a wide range of politics, government and public policy areas.”
Dworkin advises students to apply for internships as soon as possible.
“The most important advice is to start doing internships after your freshman year,” said Dworkin. “Each internship builds your network and provides experience. By doing three internships over the course of your undergraduate career, you maximize your opportunities for landing a job in the future.”
Originally published in the 11/30/16 edition.