Out West student blog

A Summer Beneath the Rockies

A beautiful walk through the Denver Botanic Gardens, my last excursion in Denver.

By Princess Umodu
Political Science Major, C/O 2017
Elections Intern at the National Conference of State Legislatures

In high school, I found a quote that stated, “I cannot remember the books I have read any more than the meals I have eaten. Even so, they have made me.” After this summer, I would add that though I cannot remember every moment of my internship at the National Conference of State Legislatures in Denver, together they have made me a better student and a more well-informed citizen, as well as more prepared to enter the workforce in the future.

My expectations for this summer were not high or low, but rather, unable to be quantified. I had no idea what to expect when I walked through the front doors and that feeling never truly went away. Before I went to Denver, I knew that I would have the chance to work collaboratively, but also independently and that in doing so, I would learn a lot about how I operate in those different distinct environments. Now, I truly understand what motivates me and when I need the push and centering of a team-oriented effort and when I can be alone and let work flow from me as needed. One thing that strikes me is how much work I did and knowledge I accumulated.

At the end of my internship, I presented on what I had learned over the last two months. It was hard for me to start at first because I kept thinking that all I had learned was about ballot measures. Surely, I did not have enough information to fill a 20 minute presentation? However, the second I put my pencil to the paper to start an outline, my pencil would not stop moving. Nuances and thoughts flowed over me in a rush to get on the page and into the presentation. It was absolutely incredible to me how much I had learned. Keeping the ballot measures database updated was only the beginning. Work included compiling and double-checking legislation on various topics including voter id and poll watcher requirements, as well as a brief stint in legislative vacancies. I also responded or aided in responding to information requests from reporters, state legislators, legislative staff, and anyone else who contacted NCSL’s election staff for an issue I was involved in.

This summer was dynamic for elections, to say the least. With the political season this year, the Elections team, which I interned for, often found themselves producing and publishing information on voter technology and procedure to provide nonpartisan context for how elections run as we move closer and closer to the November 8 general election. Being a part of that eye-opening. As an intern, I saw relevant and timely responses to current news, whether it had happened the day before or just hours before. Working for such an extremely well-informed group encouraged me to stay updated with the ever-changing breaking news. I am pleased to say I was a part of it, in whatever small capacity.

Aside from being very happy in my workplace, Denver proved to be a very enjoyable place to live and thrive. With the art museum, the technologically advanced public library, several beautiful parks, a beautiful botanic garden and one very good muffin shop, I explored in ways I never had before. On one occasion, I even made it out to Boulder for a short hike in Chautauqua National Park, a pastime I never thought I would pursue by myself. My summer in Denver taught me a lot about who I am and what I can achieve in ways that were unexpected, unimaginable, unknowable, and beautiful all the same.

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