In January 2012, Chairwoman Betty Jean Grant (D-Buffalo) reinstated the Legislative Internship Program of the Erie County Legislature. Since its restoration, the internship program hosted nearly a dozen college students who collectively worked over 1,000 hours at Old County Hall in downtown Buffalo.
The students who participated in the program attended several local schools such as Canisius College, Buffalo State College, State University at Buffalo, as well as out of state schools such as George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Many of the interns were originally from places outside of Western New York such as New York City, Central New York and Ghana. There were also students from areas within Erie County such as Kenmore, Lackawanna and the east side of Buffalo.
Initially, many interns were unfamiliar with the function and workings of a Legislature. In fact, many were unaware of any local issues that affect Erie County - especially government and its functions. For that reason, the primary objective was to expose students to issues pertinent to the Legislative process and practices. Chairwoman Grant wanted to make sure the interns were provided with a valuable, first-hand experience of the processes of law-making. The program was mutually beneficial because as it provided interns with valuable, first-hand experience in the legislative process; it also provided the Legislature with bright, eager students who were excited to learn about the intricate world of public policy.
The program aims give the students a clear understanding of the role Legislators and staffers play in carrying out the functions of the law-making branch of government from the inside out. Students observed the 2012 budget process; shadowed committee clerks; attended full sessions and caucuses; and generally helped with the day-to-day workings of a government office. Many interns found interest in researching the policies and precedents of local laws on the agenda.
In 2012, the Legislative Internship Program was a success because of the leadership of Chairwoman Grant. By giving students a birds-eye view of the inner workings of an effective Legislature, not only from the standpoint of passing laws and budgets - yet from the standpoint of teamwork, hard work and fair-mindedness – Chairwoman Grant also gave them an opportunity to gain a framework for success in their future.
For more information on the Spring 2013 internship program, please contact Shiana Denise Eve, Erie County Legislature Senior Legislative Aide/Legislative Internship Coordinator, at Fourth Floor, Old County Hall, 92 Franklin Street, Buffalo, NY, 14202; (716) 858-8853or firstname.lastname@example.org.