Last Day

Today is my last day at the Michigan House. While this has been a generally good learning experience, I’ll be happy to have a brief break before heading back to classes. Over the summer I’ve definitely learned more about myself and what I look for in a career.

Most of my duties included constituent relations work. I handled calls from members of our district and addressed their concerns to the best of my ability. I learned how to reach out to charities, research organizations, and other agencies to improve the lives of the people who called. However, I learned that I may not be well suited to a career in politics that depends on direct contact with constituents on a daily basis. I found it rewarding to do research and complete tasks for constituents, but it was incredibly difficult for me to go home at the end of the day when I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything or hadn’t been able to help someone. It was frustrating when constituents yelled at me over the phone and insisted that I was part of a conspiracy to keep them poor or in an unhealthy environment. While I wanted to be treated with as much respect as they did, it would have reflected negatively on my office to hang up the phone or to ignore their concerns. Several constituents called on a nearly daily basis to speak angrily towards me about their bills and cost of living. It was difficult to remain calm and to explain that I was not responsible for their misfortunes, but that I would do as much as I could through our office to assist them. I think that I would be well suited to policy research or litigation.

In the future, I think I will take special care to avoid positions that would place me in the same situation. I felt like I had no power and that I was disrespected by individuals asking me to perform a large amount of work for them. I love helping communities and making a positive impact, but I think that I should focus on a career that would either place me directly on the ground doing charitable work or place me a phone call or two away from the direct customer hotline.

Overall, this has been a positive experience. I enjoyed getting to know my coworkers, learning more about Michigan politics, and doing research.

One thought on “Last Day

  • August 17, 2018 at 2:08 pm
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    Thank you for sharing, Mary! I appreciate your honest assessment of your internship experience. It is unfortunate that you experienced angry calls from constituents and felt powerless to defend against it. Early in my career I spent time working in municipal government and today I still volunteer on boards for the city in which I reside. I can attest to feeling unaccomplished at times and feeling unappreciated by constituents. Public sector work can often feel thankless; but so long as you can go home knowing you did your best; you’ve done all you can and should find accomplishment in that. It is unfair that constituent anger is often directed at those who are not responsible for causing the issue; but it is indeed a part of the job.

    I am glad to hear that this experience has given you clarity around the type of work you would be mos comfortable with within the sector. Better to find that out now that this work is not quite what you want to do as opposed to several years into your post-college life. I am also happy to hear that you found your experience to be positive overall. I hope that this experience helps you in the classroom and beyond. Thanks again for sharing this summer! – Jake

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