Firsthand Experience in Government Empowers Future Leaders

A Legislative Column by Assemblyman Will Barclay
There are many kids in our area who wish to improve our communities and our state. I recently had the privilege to meet with a group of them at the APW School District. The group is interested in changing state laws and learning how our government works.

Under the direction of their teachers, the students are learning about state issues, writing bills, and learning how to defend them. Later this school year, the students will travel to Albany where they will participate in a mock session of the legislature with their peers from schools around the state.

During the mock session, they will have the chance to debate their bills that they drafted on the floor of the Assembly.

In talking with the students, it was clear that they are inspired by this project and I wish them success. This type of hands-on civics project is just one example of how encouraging youth to be involved enables them to have a deeper understanding of their communities, their government, and their world.

It helps students understand the freedoms and rights we have in this country while empowering them with the knowledge they need to become a part of tomorrow’s solutions.

There are many opportunities offered in schools and at various levels of government that give students a firsthand experience. New York State does a good job of encouraging youth involvement through state internships.

These internships allow college students a chance to work side by side with state representatives or in state agencies.

Students can apply to intern in the Assembly, the Senate, the Unified Court System, the Attorney General’s office, or at any number of state agencies.

The New York State Assembly Session Internship allows college students to work with state Assembly representatives to gain firsthand knowledge of the legislative process.

Every year, 150 interns are selected to work in Albany during session.

Each intern is assigned a representative and helps with constituent services and correspondence and learns how the Assembly operates.

During their internship, they become familiar with the Assembly rules, learn how bills move through committees, and learn the various steps that are necessary for bills to become law.

While an intern assists with daily tasks of an Assembly office, he or she also learns about the political process and ideas that shape policy.

I have enjoyed working with bright and ambitious students who aspire to make an impact at the local, state, or federal level.

They are optimistic and dedicated to their futures and the futures of others. They are our next generation of leaders and welcoming them to these hands-on experiences strengthens our state and the communities in which they live.

To learn more or to download an application, visit

This is a paid internship program that allows graduates of any major the opportunity to learn firsthand about state government.

Undergraduate applications are due Nov. 1. To learn about other state internships, visit the New New York Leaders Initiative at

The site contains internship listings available in a particular area within an executive branch agency or department.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.

My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.