Ronald R. Joseph: My Internship Experience in the PA House

My internship in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives was an amazing experience that taught me a lot about how government and politics works at the state level. As an intern at the Harrisburg office of the House Democratic Caucus Secretary Representative Rosita C. Youngblood, I was also able to sharpen my skills of writing, public speaking, and research which will aid me in a career in public service.

My tasks during the internship mostly involved writing and research. I wrote constituent letters, summarized bills, and completed other tasks that came up over the course of the semester. My most favorite tasks, however, was writing and presenting my own bill. As I was a fellow paid by the Bipartisan Management Committee, my final project involved researching, writing, and presenting an original piece of legislation. Throughout the semester, I researched various bills and proposals from both inside and outside of Pennsylvania, met with experts and stakeholders to hear their perspectives, and worked with other staffers in the state capitol to produce a piece of legislation that would achieve its objectives while incorporating the concerns of others. Through this process, I saw first-hand how legislation is produced and sold to the relevant parties involved. In the future, this knowledge will be useful when paying attention to pending legislation at all levels of government.

My experiences in the PA House exemplifies the reason why I am involved in politics: to find solutions to the problems that affect society. Growing up, I learned about the various injustices in society and I realized that I should be involved in politics to find solutions instead to merely talking about the problems from the sidelines. Additionally, I learned that even if I tried to stay away from politics, politics will always involve everyone, including me. As former Congressman Barney Frank said: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

My experiences in the PA House will inform my further involvement with the Pennsylvania College Democrats as I enter into my senior year. Specifically, I learned a lot more about the importance of state government in public policy and the nuances of party politics in this Commonwealth. While a lot is happening at the federal level with Trump, a lot of things are also happening at the state level in terms of public policy and politics. In Harrisburg, conservative state legislators have pushed legislation recently that would strip funding for sanctuary cities, curtail reproductive rights, and push back against proposals for criminal justice reform. Additionally, Trumps razor-thin victory in Pennsylvania last fall has emboldened many Republicans to target Democrats across the Commonwealth in 2018. So I would encourage my fellow College Democrats from the Commonwealth to pay a lot more attention to Harrisburg as well in addition to DC.

Ultimately, I would encourage everyone--especially PA College Democrats--to get more involved in state politics and government because it has a lot of impact on the lives of Pennsylvanians.