New York League of Conservation Voters, New York, NY
This summer, I wanted to intern somewhere that would expose me to one of the potential career paths that I would be interested in pursuing. Ultimately, I was able to take a summer position at the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), a nonprofit advocacy group fighting for action on climate change. I chose to intern here because I am interested in a career in public policy—whether it be research, advocacy or both—and because I am passionate about climate issues. During my time at NYLCV I was able to get exposure to both sides of what a nonprofit like this does with respect to public policy. I was able to both manage a data collection project for research that could have a significant real-world impact and to observe firsthand how groups like NYLCV influence public policy through the political realm.
I, along with a couple of other interns, was put in charge of managing a data collection project regarding lead contamination in school drinking water. The goal of this project was to pinpoint places where lead contamination is a serious problem and to create an estimate that can be given to elected officials on the cost to legally lower what is considered a “safe” level of lead in water, which schools are mandated to maintain by replacing water pipes and fixtures that exceed the given level. This project also gave me hands-on experience in managing data and in training and organizing a team to complete a task. By having to learn all of the terminology, understanding the larger scope of the project, and creating an organized system for volunteers to be able to assist with the project, I learned what it is like to execute one of the major steps of the research process.
Throughout this internship I witnessed how groups like NYLCV influence the policymaking process and public support for issues they care about. I regularly sat in on meetings with staff for New York City council members during which NYLCV and a coalition fighting for the same cause presented updates and identified potential paths for pushing legislation through the city council. At NYLCV, the organization conducted interviews with candidates for the upcoming elections and endorsed candidates with strong climate change records. To see how important the candidates found the endorsement—and the pledges they made to work with NYLCV—was a hopeful sign that real change can still be made by working through nonprofit organizations.
Overall, it was a valuable experience learning firsthand about how the political process works from the interest side and gaining hands-on experience in data and research. The support through ASIP and from the ’68 Center also allowed me to have the amazing experience of living in New York City in order to pursue this summer internship opportunity, which in turn afforded me many memorable experiences and provided me with important skills.