Anderson, a senior political science major and history minor, is interning in Washington this fall.
Unsettled by the clamor of an exceptionally contentious election season, a nonpartisan bystander might assume that Washington, D.C., is currently a major convergence point for hysteria. Timothy Anderson, an Adelphi senior who is interning in Washington this fall, has discovered to his surprise that the opposite is true—while the pulse of the rest of the nation races, the city by the Potomac River seems cool, calm and collected.
“D.C. is a cosmopolitan city and people are very politically aware,” he observed. “That makes the election and other national events small talk – talk over breakfast, talk over lunch. I wouldn’t say that the election has caused any discord or that D.C. is apprehensive. I would just say that D.C. is very open to discussing politics.”
A capital city pursuing a business-as-usual approach in the midst of upheaval is ideally suited to Anderson, a political science major and history minor, who began his internship in the office of New York Representative Sean Patrick Maloney this past August. Anderson is eager to learn the ins and outs of the town he will call home for the next few months. As one of two Adelphi students enrolled in a cooperative program between Adelphi and The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, he is getting the opportunity to do just that.
Several events have already occurred, including the kickoff of a WNYC podcast series about voter issues, The United States of Anxiety, featuring Brian Lehrer on September 19; a demonstration of an electronic voting machine on September 20; a Constitution Day presentation by Brett Ferguson on September 21; and the “Adelphi Votes” voter registration effort by the League of Women Voters held throughout the month of September.
September 26 was an especially busy day as Dr. Maggie Gray lectured on the role of advertising in presidential elections on campus, and Lori Duggan, the vice president of communications, hosted interning students (including Timothy Anderson) at The Washington Center’s annual fundraiser off campus.
Coming up on Monday, November 7 at 7 p.m. will be a lecture by David Brooks, author of The Road to Character and frequent contributor to NPR and The New York Times, on what to expect after the election (tickets are free but required).
On November 9, students can also attend a post-election discussion at Blodgett Hall, Room 209, from 10:50 a.m. to 12:05 p.m.
“Being there on the front lines of an office that deals with its constituents has been a very involving and insightful experience,” Anderson said. “It’s fascinating to see how things really work.
Washington has often been romanticized in print and on screen as a locus for elite power games and backroom wheeling and dealing, but much to Anderson’s surprise, his internship has revealed that such portrayals couldn’t be further from the truth.
“D.C. isn’t like House of Cards at all,” he said. “D.C.’s a very normal city of people just trying to do their jobs. People also happen to be politically inclined, so everyone is doing their thing while having a political consciousness.”
Political consciousness is something the Adelphi senior developed after moving to Queens from his California birthplace near Los Angeles.
“When I moved to New York, I noticed a lot of disparities – you could go one block and it would be very well-off, and it would be one race, and then you could go another block and it would very not well-off and another race,” he said. “Seeing these disparities and wondering why things are the way they are is what pushed me into political science and made me want to understand how governments try to deal with issues of division; issues of misunderstanding.”
Upon enrolling at Adelphi, Anderson was excited to discover that the university’s internship program might allow him to explore these ideas. Facilitated by Professor Regina Axelrod, Ph.D. the program has been a mainstay of the political science department for over 30 years and has shepherded countless students on a path to eventual state and federal government service. Dr. Axelrod is rightfully proud of the program and is often amazed at the result.
“When I see them after the internship, they are changed people,” she said. “I love that Adelphi can make that happen.”
The change doesn’t happen without considerable personal investment. The internship itself absorbs most weekdays, while there are also night classes and Friday workshops to attend, as well as volunteer programs on weekends.
“It’s not just an internship alone,” Anderson said. “The Washington Center builds skills that can help you when you leave the program. It helps you make connections and develops you as a person.”
Once he finishes the internship, Anderson will write a paper examining his real-world experience in the light of his academic training. From there, he hopes to continue on to law school, and ultimately, seek a job in the Department of Labor. He said that the internship is the vital first step on the way to attaining his goal.
“Doing an internship with the kind of support that the Washington Center gives, and that Adelphi gives, is a great way to start,” he said. “Being right there, involved in the process, knowing that I will be contributing—that’s the biggest takeaway.”
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