Students talk about their Spring 2014 internships with companies including Estee Lauder and Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Christopher Ladka, Rural & Migrant Ministry Internships, Rural and Migrant Ministry

On April 5 and 6, I traveled to Lyons, New York, the seat of Wayne County, on a delegation sponsored and organized by Rural & Migrant Ministry (RMM), a statewide nonprofit where I am an Intern. Through RMM, I work on the Justice for Farmworkers Campaign on Long Island, yet there are few farms in Nassau County so it was awesome to go upstate where most of RMM’s organizing goes on. We went on a tour of Wayne County, visited an apple processing plant, and talked to farmworkers.

Farmworkers are excluded from the traditional labor rights and regulations available to all other NYS workers and suffer from acute poverty, wage theft, and harassment from local and federal authorities. Farmworkers, who pick the food that nourishes Americans, are an exploited class of people.

The stress placed upon the farmworkers we met was clear; they often work over 14 hours during the peak harvest time, doing backbreaking labor without a day of rest. Oftentimes, farmworkers make minimum wage, or less. Many are immigrant workers without any recourse to defend themselves legally, and have their working hours misrepresented or simply not paid. One woman shared with us a particularly telling account; whenever she worked on a new farm, invariably, she would suffer some form of sexual harassment or verbal abuse, which is a significant problem in the fields.

The experiences we heard were troubling, but we were encouraged by the farmworkers resilience, the bonds of their families and seeing their children in school with brighter futures ahead of them. It was a defining moment for me as a political science student at Adelphi. For so long I’ve been learning in courses about power dynamics, social movements and political campaigns and I was now translating my knowledge into social change. If the Lyons delegation was united around one thing, it’s that we would not stop until the brutal exploitation of farmworkers had ended.

 Alexa Savino, L.I. Office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Rural & Migrant Ministry

I am currently interning for both U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D) and a statewide nonprofit organization co-ordinating advocacy efforts for farmworkers’ rights, known as Rural & Migrant Ministry. When working for the Senator, I deal with constituent services, communicating with Long Island residents regarding issues relevant to the Senator’s areas of focus (women’s rights, agriculture, environmental sustainability, veterans’ rights), in addition to managing press-related tasks and attending events on behalf of the office. For instance, I represented Senator Gillibrand’s LI regional branch at a meeting for Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded program in which teams of experts develop plans for creating a resilient post-Sandy community, and drafted a memo to document the meeting’s results. My tasks with Rural & Migrant Ministry include expanding community outreach efforts to build up our LI delegation, planning events to generate support for relevant state legislation, and researching the state of LI labor and agriculture to better illustrate the region’s rural landscape. I gave a presentation on RMM’s mission for the Long Island Immigrant Alliance and drafted materials for distribution, based on my research, to assist the campaign. Having the opportunity to play an active role in both of these internships simultaneously has proven useful: they are serving to complement and enhance my knowledge of the political realm, as I better understand the interplay between, and the direct line connecting, federal tasks and responsibilities and grassroots movements of state/local relevance.

 Michael Khayan Lontscharitsch, Washington, DC

As an intern with the Washington Center, I am working for Carolyn Maloney’s office. She represents New York’s twelfth district and is a strong advocate for women’s rights in addition to her role in the Financial Services and Government Oversight and Reform Commit-tees. While in Washington I have: attended briefings on a range of topics (i.e. the Arab spring in Bahrain, WWF & Sierra Club on the TPP, Senate Finance budget hearing, and even one on circadian rhythm); learned about the Capitol and even given tours; developed skills in constituent correspondence; written briefing summaries; heard from some prominent people (including the creator of the Zogby poll); visited most of the Smithsonians and the Philipps collection; enjoyed free concerts at the National Gallery of Art and the Portrait Gallery; visited Virginia & Philadelphia; begun writing a ten-page policy recommendation (for my class, 21st century American foreign policy) on the current situation in Venezuela; and joined protests at the White House and OAS regarding Venezuela.

This internship has improved my knowledge of the legislative process, which began in Professor Gray’s seminar on agricultural policy. Being in the office on a daily basis has clarified for me how the literature in Professor Axelrod’s public policy seminar relates to the actual work that the staff does.

 Sarah Cinquemani, Estee Lauder

I am a Political Science and Environmental Studies double major. This semester, I intern twice a week at Estee Lauder in Melville, NY. When this opportunity came about through the Career Center, I jumped at the opportunity to work in a corporate setting, something I have never done. I am a lab assistant in the Corporate Mascara division where mascara for all Estee Lauder brands is created. Though not a chemist, I am excited to wear my lab coat and goggles every day as I weigh out raw mate-rials. My daily tasks have included: labeling products for blind consumer testing, testing products on my own eye-lashes and learning how to use the equipment in the facility. Soon I will be working on my own research project. Even though this is mascara testing, the research skills I have learned in my political science major, certainly inform my thoughts on how to analyze and write about research.

Jennifer Lin, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office

This semester I have the honor of interning at the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, which is a stone’s throw away from Adelphi at the courthouse in Mineola. While many of my responsibilities have been administrative, it has been educational. I have seen the work of our many assistant district attorneys (ADAs) up close. For the last few weeks, I have been assisting two of our ADAs prepare for a robbery trial by transcribing a video interview of the defend-ant, which served as an important piece of evidence. I observed a number of court sessions during the trial and helped the ADAs transport the boxes of evidence they used in their statements. This past week, I watched the clos-ing statements of both the defense and the prosecution. The following day, while I was assisting a paralegal organize forensics reports and prepare file inserts for the case folders used to organize evidence, I learned the jury had found the defendant guilty.

While my internship does involve tedious work, I am very satisfied with my experience. I now have first-hand knowledge of how a courthouse operates and have learned more about the law. I am sure this will help me with my law school admissions process this Fall!

This piece appeared in the Political Science Newsletter Spring 2014 edition.

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