Allowing Youth Firsthand Experience in Government Empowers Future Leaders

September 22, 2017

I am often invited to speak to school-aged kids and during these visits a common question kids have for me is what does it means to be a good citizen. The question itself is inspiring because it means they are searching for ways to be good citizens. What is even more inspiring is without realizing, many kids already know the answer and work to make an impact on our communities each day. Citizenship can take many forms and an individual does not need to be an adult to be a good citizen. Whether it is being respectful to others, volunteering with an organization, or heading up an Eagle Scout project, youth are involved in ways to help improve our communities and show good citizenship.

One way to encourage good citizenship and civic engagement is to provide our youth with firsthand opportunities to learn about how our government works. By encouraging youth to be involved, it enables them to have a deeper understanding of their communities, their government, and their world. It also helps students understand the freedoms and rights we have in this country while empowering them with the knowledge they need to become a part of tomorrow's solutions.

There are many opportunities offered at various levels of government that gives students a firsthand experience. New York State has done a great job in trying to encourage youth involvement through state internships. These internships allow college students a chance to work side by side with state representatives or in state agencies. Students can apply to intern in the Assembly, the Senate, the Unified Court System, the Attorney Generalís office, or at any number of state agencies.

The New York State Assembly Session Internship allows college students to work with state Assembly representatives to gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative process. Each year, 150 interns are selected to work in Albany during session. Each intern is assigned to a representative and helps with constituent concerns, assists with correspondence, and learns how session is run on the Assembly floor. In the six-month period, they become familiar with the Assembly rules, learn how bills travel through or get stopped in committees, and learn the various steps that are necessary for some to become laws. During this time, each of them helps with the daily tasks in the Assembly offices but also learns about the political process and ideas that shape policy.

I have had the pleasure of working with bright and ambitious students who aspire to make an impact on shaping policy. They are optimistic and dedicated to their futures and feel a responsibility to improve the world. They are our next generation of leaders and welcoming them to learn firsthand strengthens our state and the communities in which they live.

To learn more or to download an application, visit http://nyassembly.gov/intership/. This is a paid internship program that allows graduates of any major the opportunity to learn firsthand about state government. Both undergraduate and graduate internships are available. Applications are due this year on Nov. 1. To learn about other state internships, visit the New New York Leaders Initiative at https://nysinternships.cs.ny.gov/nnyl/more.cfm. The site contains internship listings available in a particular area within an executive branch agency or department.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at barclaw@assembly.state.ny.us or by calling (315) 598-5185.