The Georgia Legislative Internship Program gives KSU students an insider’s view
KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 1, 2019) — Five Kennesaw State students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences traded their on-campus classes this semester for hands-on experience, working full-time as legislative interns in the heart of state government.
For Mason Kane, Genesis Scott, Diego Santana, Melody Olowojoba and Rachel Wilson, being an intern during the 2019 legislative session at the Georgia State Capitol has been an extraordinary educational experience.
“The best part of my time at the Capitol has definitely been having the opportunity to see the legislative process up close and actually be able to live in it,” said Rachel Wilson, a political science major at KSU.
The Georgia Legislative Internship Program has connected students at Georgia colleges and universities to the General Assembly of Georgia for more than 40 years. Every spring semester, these full-time interns work hand-in-hand with legislative leaders, see local politics in action and connect with local and national leaders.
The four-month internship lasts for Georgia’s entire legislative session, which runs from January through early April. Open to any junior or senior-level student in any major, those selected to participate in this unique program receive academic credit and a weekly stipend.
In the fall, applicants interested in the internship program complete a comprehensive application which includes a resume, essay, three reference letters and college transcripts. A second round of the process includes interviews, with the final selection of interns made by the beginning of the spring semester.
The internship gives students the chance to study government and policy and interact with the procedures and day-to-day functions that help operate state government. The time under the gold dome provides the chance to not only develop skills in the field of government but also begin building a professional network and practical experience.
“I have such an appreciation and respect for our elected officials and their support staff after working so closely with them,” said Wilson, who works with the House Appropriations Committee Chairman Terry England.
The fast-paced political world allows the KSU interns to immerse themselves in the processes behind the legislative session. While the offices they work in vary, their tasks are similar. During a typical workday, students run documents between Senate offices, research the impact of bills, assist with answering phone calls, log information about upcoming resolutions and provide any support the legislative office may need.
“You have to really manage your time to get through the application process and not wait until the last minute,” said Genesis Scott, a political science major who interned with Senator Ed Harbison and the State Institutions and Property Committee. “That time management skill has really helped me manage my responsibilities.”
Mason Kane, an international affairs and German double major who works with Senator Kay Kirkpatrick’s Office and the Ethics Committee, quickly realized the ability to move from task to task without having a consistent routine was one of the most vital skills to develop.
“Every day is different,” said Kane. “I’m learning constantly and seeing just how much goes into every policy. It’s a lot of prioritizing and adjusting quickly. I’m understanding more and more every day.”
While all five students work in different offices for various legislators, they’ve shared in the experience together, and the people they’ve met have made a lasting impression both professionally and personally.
Political science major Melody Olowojoba who works in the Senate Research Office has found the internship helped her learn new skills and find mentors.
“I’ve met so many new people who can give advice based on their own experiences,” Olowojoba added. “Being an intern forced me to step out of my comfort zone and into meeting so many new people.”
For these five student interns, it’s made a lifelong impact and given them an insider’s perspective on the complex workings of state government and the legislative process at the Georgia Capitol.
“For me, the best part of this internship experience has been the people I’ve met, from my fellow interns to senators,” said political science major Diego Santana, who works with Senator Donzella James and the Interstate Cooperation Committee. “It’s the people that will stick with me the longest.”
– Andrea Judy
Photos by David Caselli
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its approximately 38,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status, and one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.