This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding Grant. We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending their summer. You can read the entire series here.
This entry is by Halle Abram, COL ’17
When I first walked into the office of the League of Women Voters of New York City, I was surprised by how tight knit of a community the organization seemed to be. It looked less like an office, and more like a casual convention—a home in one way or another—of powerful women committed to civic engagement and citizens’ empowerment.
I was first interested in working as an intern for LVWNYC because I knew that they strive to reverse disenfranchisement and inequity through voter education on a variety of issues. I knew that I would find it rewarding to restore agency in American citizens through a commitment to the most important process in our country: voting.
I’ve always been outspoken about inequity because I—like many other Americans—have high standards for our government and our country. However, working at the LWVNYC gave me the opportunity to actualize my plans for change. Leveraging the organization’s legitimacy in political spaces, I was able to take part in and lead several voter engagement initiatives.
At first, my main responsibilities at LWVNYC were constituent facing roles like answering to citizens’ questions about voter registration, the board of elections, and candidates seeking election. In my first week, I also got to sit in on a variety of committee meetings, like the Affordable Housing Committee, the Voting Services Committee, and the Campaign Finance Reform Committee. These committees comprised of members of the organization that were especially passionate about those respective topics, which organized agendas and coordinated statements for the organization’s lobbyists.
I became very fascinated by the ideas discussed in the Campaign Finance Reform Committee in particular. I asked my supervisor and the head of the committee if I could do research on money in politics, and they were delighted with the idea. As a result, throughout my internship, I researched legislation in New York State that has allowed high-net-worth individuals, special interest groups, and big businesses to donate millions of dollars to candidates through limited liability companies as “shadow” campaigns. I was then tasked with educating the rest of the LWVNYC membership on campaign finance reform through social media management in a series of tweets, utilizing different hash tags like #ShineALightOnShadowCampaigns and #KnotTheLLCLoopHole. This project also led to my controlling of the League’s social media accounts for the remainder of my internship.
Through mid-July, I continued to research campaign finance reform, but I also started a new project that took my work in a new direction. After my co-intern and I realized the real lack of young people involved in the organization, we decided to ask our supervisor if we could take charge on a project for youth expansion. Over the course of three weeks, we designed an in-depth business plan for a campus representative program on five campuses in NYC designed to increase youth membership, generated revenue, and voter turnout in NYC’s college students.
Interning at the League of Women Voters of NYC was exciting and empowering. Not only did I gain diversified work experience, but I also developed connections with some of the most hard-working, passionate, and inspiring women. I will forever cherish my summer experience, and I will take the skills and connections I accrued with me throughout my Penn career and my career at large.