2020 PFIG Recipient Sherese Bonner

Jessica Meyers

Journal Entry #1

Hello! My name is Sherese Bonner and I am a rising fourth year student majoring in Public Policy and Leadership. I am currently interning with the Center for Effective Lawmaking, a partnership between the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and Vanderbilt University. I am working remotely due to the pandemic. Working remotely has posed quite a few challenges for me. However, I have been very intentional about establishing a routine to be more productive. Using Google Calendar, writing daily to-do lists and other tools have been critical in the process of working from home. These tools hold me accountable and provide me with a much-needed sense of structure during the day.

I was particularly interested in this internship opportunity because I had previous experience working on the local government level last summer. I wanted to use this summer to expand my horizons to become more familiar with other public service oriented career options available post-graduation. So far, I can say that this internship opportunity has been an eye-opening experience. I feel engaged with the Center’s initiatives and I am glad to be a part of such a wonderful team. One of the best aspects of the Center’s work is its commitment to keep the community engaged with their research via webinars. These webinars focus on topics such as the importance of experienced congressional staff and the role of women in Congress. 

Over the past three weeks, I have immersed myself in numerous projects for the Center. This includes drafting a press release on elite education and legislative behavior in Congress, collecting quotes from past congressional members using the National Archives to find connections to the Center’s research, advertising webinar events, and compiling a list of contacts for distribution of press releases to think tanks, non-governmental organizations, and news outlets. I am looking forward to taking on even more responsibilities over the next couple of months to advance the Center for Effective Lawmaking’s mission and vision.

Journal Entry #2

The Center for Effective Lawmaking has kept me very busy. I recently completed a blog post discussing the importance of experienced legislative staff in Congress. I hope this blog post informs others that recruiting and retaining seasoned legislative professionals allows one to advance more substantive legislation in Congress. The blog posts and press release assignments allow me to hone on skill sets that are typical of a public relations professional. As a student in the Batten School, my courses always emphasize the importance of writing clearly and effectively. I believe I am transferring those skill sets into my role at the Center.

Another project I have been working on is compiling a list of potential advertisers for a BattenX course the Center is offering. This course intends to inform participants about how congressional members move legislation forward to shape significant policies. I have been vigorously researching advertisement opportunities through local and national news outlets to ensure that the Center can garner interests from lawmakers and their staff all over the country. I hope this increases enrollment for the course but more importantly, I hope the course is both relevant and helpful to all who enroll.

What I do appreciate about my internship is the consistency in which I have felt involved in the Center’s projects. I have a lot of autonomy when it comes to pursuing initiatives for which I am passionate while also being provided with a set list of tasks that need to be completed over the summer. This arrangement provides an optimal work experience when working from home.

Journal Entry #3

I am currently wrapping up my final week at the Center for Effective Lawmaking. Over the past 10 weeks, I have gained critical skill sets that will allow me to excel in both my undergraduate career and beyond. I just finished a blog post summarizing the Center Co-Directors Batten Expert Chat experience. This chat was done to educate members of the UVA community what the Center for Effective Lawmaking is, how it was founded, and what their research is being utilized for. I found it awesome to not only be an attendant of this event but an important part of publicizing it to expand the Center’s outreach.

I am also currently working on a writing assignment that includes interviewing a faculty affiliate of the Center for Effective Lawmaking. I am hoping to reflect on what encouraged them to work with the Center, their academic background, and what research they are currently working on affiliated with the Center. I thoroughly enjoy interviewing others to understand their passions and how their interests all the more contribute to the organization’s goals.

If I could give one piece of advice to any student who wants to pursue my internship it is to never be afraid to speak up on what projects you would like to pursue not originally proposed. It can be a testament of your innovation and self-determination to add value to your internship. I would also say to make sure that these projects are done so that you can build your own portfolio. Portfolios will be crucial especially when going through internship and job search processes. Many organizations, especially in the world of public policy, like to hire someone with strong writing skills. Having already done numerous writing assignments this summer, I know that this will aid me as I consider different policy-oriented opportunities post-graduation. I would also make sure to link the writing assignments under the “Publication” tab in your LinkedIn profile. This makes it more accessible to others who want exposure to the variety of different projects you have worked on in the past.

I am grateful for the chance to have served as a Public Policy Intern at the Center for Effective Lawmaking. This would not have been possible without the Parents Fund financial support. I appreciate this opportunity which allowed me to gain valuable work experience in the field of public policy.