Rider students talk political involvement and interning during a pandemic

By Hailey Hensley

In a turbulent election year, people all over the country are getting politically involved in a variety of ways. People from all over the political spectrum are poll watching, field organizing and phone banking at unprecedented rates. Students at Rider are no exception to this, and several students are currently holding political internships despite the difficulty of the times. 

These students complete a variety of duties at their respective congressional or campaign offices to ensure their candidate’s victory for the next election and build strong relationships with constituents. 

There are various reasons students have chosen to intern in politics, but for sophomore political science major Andrew Bernstein, he specified that he did it to develop a deeper knowledge of politics. 

“I decided to intern in politics because I wanted to gain an insight into how political offices operate. Not only is my major political science, but I also feel that understanding the functions of politics is such an important aspect of being an informed citizen,” he said. “Also, I felt that the best way to see if being an elected official was as rewarding as I had hoped would be to experience the atmosphere and tasks involved in the career path I wish to pursue.”

Junior political science major Alison Ward provided completely different reasoning for choosing to enter politics, citing helping constituents as a key factor in her decision. 

“Being a congressional intern has been a great experience because it shows the impact that the federal government has amongst its district, community and the nation as a whole. Having the opportunity to assist constituents is very important, especially during such stressful times. I chose political science because I hope to one day work in the intelligence community as an analyst,” she said. 

Both students emphasized the role of constituents in their day-to-day activities, highlighting just how important it was to their respective candidates to keep those they are responsible for happy, healthy and safe. 

“As an intern, I am responsible for speaking with constituents on the phone and having our office assist them with issues regarding federal agencies, and so on. I also serve as a liaison between the federal agencies and constituents,” Ward said. “COVID-19 posed many new obstacles these past several months so it’s important that I’m able to help them as much as possible over the phone. I’m also responsible for passing along any concerns or opinions that constituents may have, and helping staff members with projects.”

Bernstein illuminated the fact that there is much more than what appears at the surface level to working in politics and serving the public.

“I think the average student should know that politics isn’t defined by the negative stereotypes associated with the term. There is an intense amount of planning and consideration that goes into the operations of politics, much of which focuses on improving the lives of constituents, especially at the local level,” he said. 

Ward went on to point out that working in politics is not for everyone, stating that it can be incredibly challenging. However, she makes it clear that she feels it is a worthwhile job and plans to continue a career in politics. 

“Working in politics has not only prepared me for what future career may lie ahead, but it has helped me understand that everyone is different, and has different needs,” she said. “My internships have allowed me to meet many people, and have shown how I can have a positive impact on my community. If you want to seek change, working in politics is the best way to get involved and make a difference.”

Caption: Students with political internships are often affiliated with the Rebovich Institute for New Jersey politics, which is headed by Micah Rasmussen at Rider. 

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