By Bunyad Bhatti
After completing my first year as a political science student at the College, I started learning the foundation of politics and how competitive the major can be. Between all of the cookouts, pool parties and roller coasters this past summer, I was able to squeeze in an internship experience that has become my first step toward a career.
Through a friend here at the College, I learned about an opportunity to work with Peter Mendonez Jr., a candidate running for assembly in the 15th legislative district, which includes Ewing Township. Though I became the press secretary for the campaign in the summer, I will continue networking and learning the insights of political careers and campaigns through this internship until the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election.
My previous political science classes taught me about the structure of government, as well as the voting and election processes. However, it was not until this internship opportunity that I actually understood how to increase voter turnout, reach out to the residents of the town you’re serving in and, most importantly, run a campaign. It was easy for me to quickly learn the dynamics of campaigning through the “Mendonez4NJ” platform, which focuses on bringing the millennial generation into politics.
Mendonez’s team consists of millennials from the area: two of us from the College, another from Rutgers University and two from local high schools. I find it a blessing to be on a team where we all have the same goal, mindset and experiences.
Together we learn something new from each other and our responsibilities — especially during our team meetings that consist of a quick round table of recommendations of how each of us can improve upon our work. After all, there’s always room for improvement.
Being so close to the issues Mendonez works with, living in Lawrence and attending college in Ewing — there couldn’t be a better area for me to have an internship in. Working toward bringing changes into my hometown has taught me many lessons with the most valuable being the importance of letting your voice be heard. There are always other people out there who may stand for the same cause or have the same goals as you, and the only way to know for sure is expressing your opinions. Just like every vote counts, so does every voice.
Although my position ends after the election, I have gained experiences, professional networks and memories that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Learning outside of the classroom teaches you in ways books never can, so every opportunity is worth a try.
I came into the College not knowing much about political science career paths and opportunities. As a sophomore, I have been able to experience the difference between working in politics and working in public affairs through this experience, as well as a previous internship opportunity already. It’s a great feeling knowing you enjoy the work you will be doing for the rest of your life.