Interning at the Office of Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell by Amy Rodenberger

I am a sophomore from Lancaster, Pennsylvania majoring in Political Science and Spanish & Portuguese, with a minor in Latin American Studies.  I currently intern at New Orleans’ City Hall, in the office of Councilmember LaToya Cantrell.  This is a Public Service Internship for which I am earning 3 credit hours and fulfilling my 2nd tier public service graduation requirement through the Center for Public Service. 
Being an intern in such an active environment, my job changes every day depending on the needs of the Councilmember and her office staff.  Some days are pretty mundane, and I am needed in the office to answer phone calls, send emails, organize files, and do other “classic intern” activities.  On one of my less than favorite days, I typed up the new and dreaded Mardi Gras Ordinances, filed them properly, and defended them on the telephone.
Other days are much more interesting though.  I assist the Councilmember at Council Meetings, Budget Hearings, and Committee Meetings.  I go on sight with other staff members to large protests, city events, and emergency City Government meetings.  I helped organized events, like Wednesday at the Square and the District B Dog Bowl. I also was able to create an afterschool program for kids in the city to teach them about cleaning up trash, and see firsthand the success it has at afterschool programs with the city’s elementary school kids.
Working in an office as influential as Councilmember Cantrell’s allows me to learn more about this city than I ever could have imagined.  I am completely immersed in local politics, and actually live out what I read on the front page of the Times Picayune.  I also am able to meet and work with a huge variety of people in New Orleans, from prominent city leaders to elementary school kids. I learn about so many of the city’s different groups and organizations through my work in the office, and experience just how complex and diverse the problems and the people in this city are.
I have learned a lot about professionalism through this internship, from how to talk to a large variety of people, to how to stay organized and focused through the chaos that is New Orleans’ City Hall.  Things never stop happening there, people are constantly in and out, new problems arrive, and sometimes tragedies strike.  I see the importance of both teamwork and hard work in times like this, and I’ve seen how, when communities unite, a whole lot can happen.  The best thing I’ve learned from this internship though, is the importance of staying positive through everything, the good, the bad, and the even the boring. 
With an office staff as vibrant and energetic as the one in District B, it is hard not to stay upbeat myself, especially because we are working in a city as exciting as New Orleans.  While I don’t plan to keep working in local politics, I believe that the office and people skills I have learned will be applicable to any job I want in the future.  If I do end up staying in politics though, the one thing I know now is there would be nowhere more exciting to work than in New Orleans.
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