Written by Isabella Lopreiato
[dropcap]O[/dropcap]n Thursday August 4th, I had the great pleasure to participate in the Rebovich Institute’s first ever Statewide Internship Conference. More than 70 summer interns, representing 31 different colleges and universities (along with 13 interns who are still in high school) congregated at Rider University. The conference served as an excellent opportunity to network with other interns in politics and government and hear from experts within the field. Even more so, being a Rider student and fellow at the Rebovich Institute, it was exciting to witness the visible impacts that both the University and Institute were able to receive from this event.
The morning session opened with Melanie Willoughby, Chief of Government Affairs at NJBIA, and David Rousseau, former State Treasurer, addressing New Jersey’s economy, and initiatives to make the state more affordable. One of those issues, which everyone in the room heavily related to, was the increasing cost of higher education. Both agreed that changes need to occur soon, especially since New Jersey sends more students to out-of-state colleges than any other state.
Subsequently, two political operatives spoke on the upcoming election: Chris Russell, Republican Political Consultant, and Jennifer Holdsworth, New Jersey State Director at Hillary for America, spoke about their respective party’s presidential nominees. Actually at the end, both stayed around for roughly ten minutes to address additional individual questions, during that period I watched in awe as the room divided based on political affiliation.
Finally, the last session featured Dr. Chris Rodriguez, Director of the NJ Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness, who spoke about various national and state security issues. He acknowledged the fact that some of the recent violent occurrences, such as the Orlando shooting, unfortunately cannot not be prevented, but stressed the focus instead should be shifted to preparing and increasing responsiveness. Besides his discussion about Homeland Security, I think the group appreciated his general career tips; which were that students should have the ability to write well, analyze data, and think critically, in order to better position themselves for career success. Overall, the conference provided me with an interesting day and greater exposure to the political/governmental sector on national and state levels.