Capital veteran staffers and supervisors are coming together to give legislative interns new insights into what it’s like to work in the Michigan Capitol. They are part of a Daniel Rosenthal Legislative Intern Award Program forum inviting experienced supervisors and legislative interns for a discussion of best practices. Interns who attend are excited about their career aspirations. They hope to work as lobbyists, staffers, lawyers and even politicians. Interns who attended the forum are passionate about issues including education, welfare, inequality policies, criminal justice and government transparency.
The Rosenthal Forum provides interns the opportunity to listen to supervisors’ expectations and perspectives on intern performance, asking them to explore, and use their skills to the best of their ability. Panelists at the June forum highlighted specific traits and work ethics that will boost interns’ experience and enhance lessons learned from the positions. The forum highlighted just a few of the necessary skills: networking, making new connections, communicating well and being ready to take on new opportunities. Those are essential to success in the workplace, supervisors told enthusiastic interns.
More goals from the supervisors: dependability, responsibility and a positive attitude. Arriving at work on time and informing supervisor of scheduling changes demonstrate dependability. It’s understandable when interns have bad days or occasional challenges, but those can be overcome by creating positive solutions to problems and avoiding complaint. Showing the skills of a team player, learning from those around you, being mindful of when to step back or take the lead and simply being considerate and respectful of others are all qualities of a positive intern, supervisors said.
An internship is an opportunity to develop new skills and strengthen current ones. It can be thought of as a three-month interview. It’s more than a temporary job, supervisors said. It’s an opportunity to impress potential employers, leave a good name, learn about career goals, and see what’s new in the profession, regardless of what’s being taught in academic courses. An internship is what an intern makes of it and what they want to learn from them. Having a healthy relationship with a supervisor and other co-workers give interns key guidance for the future, supervisors said. On-the-job supervisors will ultimately write supporting letters and references to new job opportunities. One of the most valuable things an intern can do while working in the state Capitol: Honor the internship in all its aspects.
Words of advice from the supervisors:
Clyde Edwards: “A lot of interns will come in thinking their internship will be perfect. Wipe that out. We want you to be creative, we want you to make mistakes and through your creativity and mistakes you will discover your skills.”
Marian Manning: “If you are seeking employment through your internship, more or less ever day is an interview. You should always remain professional and proactive so you can show your skills to your employer.”
Marian Manning: “If the job you are seeking didn’t open up, be patient. Don’t close up on other opportunities. You never know what they might lead to.”
John McNamara: “No one will ask you what you want to work on. You have to let your employers know what your interests are. Ask if you have questions and get to know as many people as possible. Do the small tasks right and once you show responsibility ask for more work.”
Marian Manning: “Expand on things you are interested in. Even if they are things you are worried you are not good at. You have to push yourself to do things you don’t want to do. It shows adaptability and that you have strong work ethics.”