The Department of Political Science at NC State provides students from all North Carolina colleges and universities with the opportunity to work at the North Carolina General Assembly for a semester while taking classes at NC State. Legislative interns take three classes (12 credit hours) at NC State and spend the rest of their time working for House representatives or state senators at the General Assembly. This semester, 11 students were chosen to participate in the legislative internship: six students from NC State and five students from local North Carolina universities. A few of those students discussed how their internship has impacted their knowledge of political science and their future career goals in politics.
Taylor Norton, a junior majoring in political science, works for Representative Phil Shepard of District 15 and described the various tasks she completes as an intern. “I help the representative’s office move as smoothly as possible, tracking bills, scheduling appointments, conducting research, speaking to constituents and relaying information to the Representative,” said Norton.
Similarly, Elvis Mugisha, a junior majoring in political science, echoed these responsibilities in his day-to-day activities while working for Representative Jean Farmer-Butterfield of District 24. “I have to get things ready for committee sessions and floor sessions” said Mugisha, “and it is all very fast paced.”
These responsibilities contribute to a larger goal of helping their representatives pass legislation in hopes of it becoming law. Norton conducted research on a bill increasing public safety on local roads during flooding events and Mugisha provided research on ways to increase the minimum wage in North Carolina.
As noted above, this program is also available to political science students at other local universities — students like Kathryn Carter, a double major in criminology and political science from Meredith College, and Maria Castro, a double major in political science and international studies with a minor in French from Mars Hill University. Carter interns for Senator Rick Gunn of District 24 and Castro interns for Representative Robert Reives of District 54. Students who primarily attend other colleges and universities become temporary NC State students in order to participate in the legislative internship.
In their interviews, the legislative interns described their learning process while working in the General Assembly. “It allowed me to see how the political process works,” said Castro.
Each student was able to apply what he or she learned in political science classes to everyday tasks. “I learned about political science, but I didn’t totally get it until I was actually involved in the process,” said Carter.
The students believed their internship greatly impacted the knowledge and understanding of political science. This experience helped clarify their future goals in the field of political science.
As their internship comes to a close for the semester, each student reflected on future plans. Norton and Castro described how the legislative internship program provided them with networking and legislative skills they hope to use when they work for other elected officials or run for office in the future. Mugisha and Carter both expect to use their skills when they attend law school upon completing their undergraduate degrees.
The interns were happy to provide advice for students who hope to be a part of the Legislative Internship Program. “It will be fast-paced,” said Mugisha.
“You will be a key player to the foundation of the representative’s work,” said Norton.
It’s always important to “keep an open mind,” said Castro. “You may meet legislators you disagree with, but they may present new ideas about policy.”
Carter reflected on her time in the program saying, “I don’t think there is any other internship as good as this one.”
For more information on the legislative internship at NC State and when the next application opens, visit the SPIA legislative internship page.
Interns not pictured: Christopher Rodriguez, Tyler Ross, Reagan Steele, Elvis Mugisha, Ashley Fasano, Kathryn Carter.