At MAPIS, political interns build networks, careers, futures

At MAPIS, political interns build networks, careers, futures

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The second annual Mid-Atlantic Political Intern Summit at Rowan University brought together political interns from 40 different colleges and universities for a day of networking, career building and political talk.

The lobby of Rowan University’s Business Hall was abuzz as 130 political interns from 40 different colleges networked with each other and with a host of prominent political leaders, analysts, consultants and strategists at the second annual Mid-Atlantic Political Intern Summit on Thursday, August 1.

Viridiana Martinez, a rising senior at Rutgers University, was right at home.

“I’ve met people from everywhere,” said Martinez, a public policy major, said as she surveyed the crowd at MAPIS, presented by the Rowan Institute for Public Policy & Citizenship (RIPPAC).

“These are folks I’m going to engage with in the future. I can’t wait for us to go out into the field and be successful.”

During a full day of networking, career building, education and political talk, the free bi-partisan summit brought college and high school students now completing interns in politics together with a host of distinguished speakers in areas of politics, government and social advocacy.

Among the speakers were Congressman Donald Norcross (D-NJ) and former New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

In addition to many chances to network and exchange business cards and share aspirations, interns attended breakout sessions that focused on wide-ranging topics. Among them: the futures of the Republican and Democratic parties; protecting the 2020 vote from foreign influences; driving social change; and surviving in politics when you’re a female or minority.

After morning sessions, interns sat down to lunch with speakers, who included everyone from Tom Bonier, chief executive officer of TargetSmart, one of the nation’s leading political data solutions providers for Democratic candidates, to Christy Gleason, senior strategist for Sen. Chris Coons (DE) to Matt Mowers, former senior White House adviser under President Donald Trump, to Patrick Rigby, chief of staff of the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness.

From numerous speakers, including Norcross, Christie, and RIPPAC Founding Director Ben Dworkin, MAPIS attendees were told repeatedly throughout the day that eager, ambitious, hard-working young people can succeed—and move up quickly—in politics. The summit, they and others noted, was an opportunity to take seriously.

“The people you meet today will help you throughout your life,” Norcross said in his morning keynote. “You can change the world and it starts right here today.”

Being successful in politics, Christie said in his afternoon capstone talk, “is about showing up, working hard, being reliable, and being smart.

“Not enough good people are getting into politics,” Christie said. “There will be times when you end up working for someone who isn’t what you think they are. Don’t be discouraged by politics. Move on from that person. But don’t move on from the profession. The work is still important. Both parties in this country need good people.”

Gleason told the interns to be ambitious in their pursuits.

“Most of the jobs I got in politics were entirely the result of a cold call,” Gleason said. “Be bold. Be your best advocate. Be patient.”

Dworkin also gave the interns some practical career advice, including embracing “grunt work.”

“The worst thing you could possibly do as an intern is be lazy,” Dworkin said, noting that unpaid internships often lead to full-time jobs for hard-working interns. “If you’re bored, ask to do more.”

While building political careers was on the day’s agenda, Rowan students involved with RIPPAC took pride in hosting MAPIS and showing off the University's campus.

“Events like MAPIS make RIPPAC the envy of other institutions in the region,” said junior Jason Brooks, who is interning this summer with the New Jersey Assembly Republican Office.

“Being in a room full of political interns from different backgrounds--who traveled, in some cases, hours to be here--made me incredibly proud to attend Rowan and represent our University.”