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Published: 10 August 2011
In today’s dire market, there are very few educationally enlightening and exciting job opportunities. Indeed, many Americans have been forced to accept the realization that it has become increasingly difficult to find work. For college students, particularly those seeking mandatory internships, locating a position in a relevant field of study can often be like searching for a needle in a haystack.
And yet I was able to find an internship not only directly related to my political science major, but one that afforded me an enlightening, enjoyable, albeit often-times trying, learning experience. This summer, I served as an intern at the Office of Governor Chris Christie. For three months, I worked in the Constituent Relations Department of the most controversial politician in the country, an opportunity unlike any other. While most students were relaxing on the beach, I was busy at work in the depths of Trenton’s State House, watching as New Jersey’s future was forever altered.
If someone would have told me three years ago that I would have spent my entire summer working for a Republican Governor, I would have dismissed them as crazy. I am a member of a third party. I invest very little faith in the two-party system and often criticize both the Democrats and the Republicans for their foolhardy, self-serving attitudes. Thus, it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone to learn that I didn’t actually vote for current Governor Christie; my ballot was cast for an independent candidate.
However, a scant few months after Christopher J. Christie assumed office, I found my opinion of the man slowly changing. During the campaign season, I didn’t believe a word he said; Republicans and Democrats simply don’t keep their promises. Neither are trustworthy.
As the weeks passed, however, I became increasingly aware that Christie was indeed fulfilling his campaign promises and making some very controversial decisions along the way. As unpopular as these choices may have been with select segments of the population, I realized that they were in the best interest of the State of New Jersey.
It was through this steadfast commitment that Christie earned my respect and admiration.
Thus, after months of following Governor Christie’s war against the public worker unions, the NJEA, and a whole slew of other organizations, I decided that, as I witnessed history unfolding, I somehow wanted to become involved.
I applied to participate in the Governor’s internship program. I actually didn’t expect to be accepted, and was almost certain that my resume would become lost amidst a sea of competing Republican loyalists. At some point in March, however, I received a phone call that I had been chosen to work in the Office of Constituent Relations.
I have had several jobs before. I worked at a pool club, as a licensed pharmacy technician, and in a department store, but I had no experience in the public sector, nor had I engaged in any business that required the level of professionalism expected in the Governor’s Office. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was initially somewhat hesitant to accept the newly offered position.
I ultimately decided to give it a shot, and I am happy to say that I feel I made the right choice. For three months, I helped constituents who had reached out to the Chief Executive for assistance. In the process, I became increasingly familiar not only with Governor Christie’s individual policies, but also how elected officials and their representatives handle themselves.
My internship certainly didn’t occur at a boring time. For example, I was able to witness the pandemonium that engulfed the State House during the initial pension reform hearings. I saw the protestors, heard their chants, and watched their ultimate defeat. I was even able to sit in on the Senate’s session pertaining to the pension reform bill, thus witnessing a pivotal moment in New Jersey history first-hand.
I was there during the asthma scare and “chopper-gate,” the asinine scandal that engulfed the Garden State during a particularly slow news week. I met Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, best selling author Bob Ingle, and most importantly, I was able to work in the office of the man whom many believe will someday by the President of the United States. I participated in some of the most controversial moments in New Jersey history and watched as the once mighty NJEA came crashing down.
For that, I will be ever grateful.
Yes, Governor Christie and I do have some political differences. I personally don’t agree with all of his social policies. That said, I do believe that he has made courageous decisions that are in the best interest of the taxpayers of this state. I think that he truly means what he says, and I don’t think he will ever back down without a fight. I respect the man and am proud that he is the governor of my state.
My internship has since come to an end. In September, I will return to school for my final year of college and then, if I am lucky enough, I will be on my way to law school. The past three years have been a difficult journey, but I can’t help but reflect on something Governor Christie told his interns during our final day. As we congregated in his office, he quoted his late mother and said: “Be true to yourself today so that tomorrow you don’t have to remember who you pretended to be yesterday.”
If I took anything from my internship, it was that sentiment. As sappy as it may sound, I have always been true to myself. My beliefs and political ideals are unwavering, but to have someone as prominent as Governor Christie re-enforce that conviction and encourage his interns to remain steadfast in who they are, even in the face of opposition, was truly inspiring.