As an undergrad at NYU, the pressure to secure an internship is intense. Very intense. As a politics pre-law major, I was warned that a lot of the internships available to me would involve quite a bit of coffee-fetching, with only the occasional opportunity to do some serious work. Though I know those internships have a lot of value, I wanted a different type of experience. I wanted the chance to work on something I felt strongly about or that had some kind of greater meaning (which as a twenty-something undergrad I realize is a pretty lofty goal but I’m big dreamer).
After my freshman year, I had the chance to intern in my hometown of Chicago and work with lobbyist Dan Johnson at Progressive Public Affairs. My summer working with him on raising awareness around criminal justice reform gave me a taste of the kind of work I was looking for. When it came time to head back to school and prepare for my semester “abroad” at NYU’s D.C. campus, I asked Dan if he knew of any organizations in D.C. that did similar work. He told me to check out FairVote, and if I was interested, he would put me in contact with a former colleague to see about an internship possibility.
I then studiously began to research FairVote and all the work it does to make our democracy fairer and more representative. I am excited about the opportunity that FairVote gives me to spread awareness about how ranked choice voting could be a solution to that very electoral problem. Issues of representation are not just limited to certain groups. An inefficient electoral system ultimately affects every citizen's’ relationship to their government. The overarching goal of my internship is the same as FairVote’s overarching goal: to help make the U.S. government a better reflection of its people’s desires and preferences. I am excited to be a part of U.S. democracy’s progress towards a more fair and representative system.
FairVote projects, like Representation 2020, were exactly in line with the type of work I wanted to engage in. Even better, I knew that this would be a fitting internship for more reasons than one. As a young woman of color, I don’t necessarily feel like I or people like me are properly represented in my government. While there is a lot of talk about the lack of women of color in government, I feel like there isn’t a lot of talk about solutions. Before encountering FairVote’s work, I never really considered electoral reforms as a solution to this issue.
Viviana Gonzalez is a 2015 Research Intern at FairVote. Do you want to apply for a FairVote internship? Find more information here: http://www.fairvote.org/who-we-are/internships-and-employment/internships/