By Zach Powers
PLU Marketing & Communications
OLYMPIA, Wash. (March 4, 2015)— The first round of policy and fiscal committee cut-off dates has come and gone. This week, members of the Senate and House will spend much of their days alternating between passionate, public floor debates and quiet, closed-door caucus meetings.
The weather outside may be gray and dreary, but the halls of Olympia’s legislative buildings are vibrant with the earnest bustle of policymakers, analysts, administrators, constituent advocates and lobbyists.
Among the thousands of hard-working public-policy enthusiasts who make the wheels of the Legislature turn are many Lutes, including PLU senior T.R Sullivan, a Policy Intern working for the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Sullivan, a Political Science Major and PLU’s singular intern at the 2015 legislative session, met us over his lunch hour to describe his experience so far.
How did you learn about the Legislative Internship Program?
Professor Maria Chavez informed students in her State and Local Government J-Term class last year that no PLU students were accepted into the program during the 2014 legislative session. I knew then that I needed to apply and represent fellow Lutes.
What made you want to apply?
It is, in the words of Professor Sid Olufs, a “Cadillac internship.” For any policy nerd like myself, there is probably no better internship available in the state.
What are some of the projects you’ve been working on for the Senate Democratic Caucus?
I have had the opportunity to help draft parts of legislation, conduct policy research for staff and legislators, write e-newsletters for our caucus, staff the Financial Institutions and Insurance (FII) Committee for a double-booked policy staffer—which has been amazing—and attend strategy meetings with legislators in our caucus for the FII committee.
What are some of the other things you’ve been able to do outside of your work in your designated office?
Other than attend weekly intern trainings, one of the biggest things we do outside of our legislative offices is participate in a huge legislative mock. The mock allows us to draft our own amendments to bills, act as members and lobbyists in our own committees and eventually conduct a mock floor debate. I am excited for this!
What has been your favorite part of the experience?
Knowing that I am doing important work that actually makes a difference is the best feeling in the world. Interns are entrusted with a lot of responsibility. Also, everyone who works here is extremely dedicated and absolutely loves being here. It is a work environment that may not be found anywhere else.
Could you see yourself working full-time at the Legislature or elsewhere in government someday?
Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, this work environment is like no other. There are no days when I wake up in the morning and do not want to go to work. Policy work is exciting, which is why I have some thoughts about coming back someday to work as a policy staffer if the opportunity were to arise.
Do you recommend the legislative internship to other PLU students?
I recommend the legislative internship to everyone! No matter what major you are, or what academic interests you have, the Legislature seems to have a place for everyone. I have never learned so much so quickly anywhere else. The learning curve is steep, and things move very quickly, so the internship is sure to advance anyone’s level of professionalism. If you have an opportunity to participate in this internship, then do it!