As an intern at Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Rochester office, Chaitali Chanda, a fourth-year economics and criminal justice student, gets a behind-the-scenes look at how the office runs. Chanda assists with organizing events, interacting with the media and answering constituents’ questions. The Bronx native is also the president of the pre-law association, the secretary of the pre-law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta Fraternity, a founding member and secretary of the economics club, research assistant and teaching assistant.
Question: What brought you to RIT?
Answer: Out of all the schools I applied to, RIT gave me the most financial aid and scholarships.
Q: Why did you choose to major in economics and criminal justice?
A: I chose economics because my grandfather had a hardcore interest in economics. I also want to go to law school and they love economics majors. I want to be a corporate lawyer in five to seven years.
Q: How did you obtain an internship at Sen. Gillibrand’s office?
A: This summer I interned at the Rochester District Clerk’s office. I would deliver mail to Sen. Gillibrand’s office and I thought it would be cool to work there. In early August, Dr. Wagner, chair of the economics department, sent out an email with paid internship opportunities with the senator and I instantly responded and got an interview.
Q: What are your responsibilities as an intern?
A: I take phone calls for the senator and answer constituents’ questions. I go through press clippings and send out news releases. I organize events and attend local ones to interact with the media.
Q: What is your favorite part about the internship?
A: I really like answering the phones because prior to this I had no idea how many people reach out to the senator. I didn’t realize all the work politicians do. I always knew senators go to Congress and pass legislation but I never thought about their background responsibilities. I didn’t know she has to travel all over the state and meet with lobbyists and smaller groups.
Q: Why is working with an elected official important for an economics and criminal justice major?
A: I think working with an elected official is great for law school and shows my interest in the field. I do want to run for attorney general someday so it’s beneficial for me to gain experience in politics. I like being able to see firsthand what bills the senator is proposing.
Q: What are some of your fondest memories you made at RIT?
A: When I think of my four years at RIT, I think of the economics and criminal justice departments. Some of my favorite professors and friends come from the departments.
Q: What are your plans after you graduate?
A: I’m going to move back to New York City and apply for law school at Columbia or NYU. After I graduate law school, I would like to work for a corporate firm in the city.
Traci Turner compiles “Student Spotlight” for University News. Contact her at email@example.com with suggestions.