Convent students intern in San Francisco mayoral campaigns

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Rebecca Siegel
Design Editor

Answering phones, making coffee and editing email lists are all in the job description for high school students working for a political campaign, and with the hunt for a new San Francisco mayor,  juniors Allegra Spinoso and Cassidy Lewallen have found internships, allowing them to experience the professional workplace firsthand.

While high school interns cannot draft fliers or write speeches, they are able to work alongside candidates, campaign planners, lawyers or finance managers and witness major decisions being made. Tasks may be limited to filing papers or spending an afternoon ringing door bells, but it is the experience of working on a political campaign that students say drive them to spend time at their internships.

“I do a lot of legal clerk work,” junior Cassidy Lewallen said. “It’s interesting because we work in the same room as all the lawyers, so we can experience firsthand what they deal with.”

Lewallen works in the legal department for David Chiu’s Campaign working with adult volunteers, other high school interns, lawyers and campaign managers. While working alongside adults can be intimidating, Lewallen says a student who can get along with her coworkers can learn a lot from them at the same time.

“The people I work with have been really nice — they treat the other interns and I with equality,” Lewallen said. “They don’t make me feel like a kid, we hear about all their ideas, and they are very willing to accept ideas from me and the other interns.”

Managing high school with an internship can be a challenge according to Spinoso.

“Balancing academics,hanging out with my friends, and playing sports as well as going to work gets hard because once I’m in the workplace I just have to work,” Spinoso, an intern for Dennis Herrera’s campaign said. “At school it’s easy to have a gray area where school and personal life over lap but in a real work environment you can’t let your personal agenda affect your work.”

Different campaigns require different time requirements. David Chiu for Mayor may require interns to come in after school where as Dennis Herrera for Mayor requires 10 hours per week and often on weekends.

“You have to be grown up about the internship,” Spinoso said. “You can’t just blow it off, because you’re working with other adults you need to be able to [cooperate] with them reasonably.”

“I would recommend a political or professional internship,” Lewallen said. “If [a student] has the time it’s definitely worth it, I’m really glad I did it, it’s interesting and it educates me about issues on a local level.”

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