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Jamie Peterson '10Jamie Peterson '10

Ildi Hrbos '09Ildi Hrbos '09

Interns Pick Up Political Experience at the Capitol

Politics major Adam Meyer '09 spent a year dropping off resumes at the Oregon State Capitol. "I introduced myself to person after person until they couldn't tell me no," says Meyer, who now works for Senate Majority Leader Richard Devlin. "I'm interested in public policy and law, and came to Willamette University so that I could work across the street at the Capitol."

Each year the halls of the Capitol are filled with Willamette students who intern with representatives and senators from around the state. "Not many colleges can boast of opportunities for students to intern in state government, help inform state policy and work closely with elected officials," says Dave Rigsby, associate director of Campus Life.

The department of politics offers internships for credit through the Legislative Internship course taught by politics Professor Melissa Michaux, and the Office of Career Services helps place students from other majors. "We also help students interested in working for state agencies, lobbying organizations and other groups tangentially associated with the Capitol," Rigsby says.
Most interns find themselves working as office assistants. "I do a lot of filing, answering phones and organizing House and Senate bills," says Jamie Peterson '10, who works for Republican Sen. Fred Girod. "There are a lot of lobbyists who come through our office wanting to speak to the senator about backing their issues, so I meet a lot of people."

"I do the usual filing, but I also go to hearings for House and Senate committees and take notes on bills that are being proposed," says Ildi Hrubos'09, who interns with Democratic Senator Ginny Burdick.
"I have a better understanding of how politics work on the local level and although I may not necessarily work in politics or become a senator in the future, I have a greater knowledge of how bills go through and what people can do as citizens," Hrubos says. "They can testify at committees and lobby."

"When I talk about everything I do, it can sound like grunt work, but I really make a lot of contacts," Peterson says. "When I sit down and really think about it, I realize that I have learned a lot. I'm in constant contact with two representatives on the House side, Republican Reps. Sherrie Sprenger and Vic Gilliam, so I really get to know what they are doing. The other day I sat down with the Senator and he explained all the bills he is backing."

Rigsby encourages students to consider a position at the Capitol next year. "Regardless of your major or vocational interests, Willamette students should take advantage of our unique relationship and proximity to the Capitol and state government," Rigsby says.

Reprinted from The Collegian student newsletter
Story by Zoe Larmer '12