My political views are frankly one of the primary reasons that I have pursued internships in the public sector and government. I’ve long seen myself as a moderate, “California-style” Republican (think of the Governator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Ohio Governor John Kasich). Interning for the Mayor of San Diego last year, I had those views both supported and challenged due to the inherent tasks associated with the job. Interning for the Chamber is different. While the Mayor and his staff are responsible for crafting their own policy positions, the policy positions taken by the chamber are largely determined by votes that our member organizations take. Therefore, due to the inherent nature of our business communities, our organization is obviously pro-business and therefore fiscally conservative in nature. I do tend to be fiscally conservative due to my political affiliations and the views that I have adopted through my life, but I now am seeing a lot of economic policies and positions through the lens of the business community.
Moreover, not everything in politics is clear-cut – the lines are blurred quite often. This past week, my primary task in the office was to create a fact-sheet and summary of President Trump’s budget, paying attention specifically to areas of the budget that are relevant to the business community, and more specifically the business community in San Diego. While I do not think it is appropriate to delve into specifics of our policy positions in the Chamber, I have discovered that some of those positions (that we may take on a federal policy issue) are qualified – they are not completely skewed to a conservative or liberal side. Again, this is because we are inherently an advocacy group for businesses, and a lot of businesses aren’t necessarily completely conservative nor liberal.
Another aspect of my identity that I am feeling a different light is my personality – I think of myself as relatively shy and quiet in terms of voicing my opinions to relative strangers. However, as I spend more and more time working in the office, I find myself being more open to expressing my views, and attaining a general sense of comfort in the office. This is aided by the fact that many of my coworkers in the Public Policy Department are indeed very welcoming and always willing to enhance my internship experience by getting me involved in the ongoing discussions they have. For example, I have found myself being invited to listen in on numerous conference calls that we have with our lobbyists and then being included in discussions regarding those policy issues concerned. The open environment that the office staff has created has allowed me to become more open and comfortable in my workplace, and actually feel like a valued member of the Chamber Team!