Local internships include a variety of political offices, social service agencies, and environmental organizations. Within the last ffew years, for example, we have placed students at the following organizations:
O.A.R. (Offender Aid and Restoration): This local internship involves working with inmates at the Tompkins County jail. Interns meet with inmates on a regular basis at the jail, providing them with services, such as contacting attorneys, making phone calls, and acquiring bail bonds. Mostly, they provide the inmates with someone to talk to. Students enrolled in this internship get extensive training, and they are asked to make a year long commitment to the program.
Rape Crisis Center: Students working for this organization engage in a variety of activities, including helping out in the office, working the phone lines, and doing legislative or other kinds of research. The last student who undertook this internship put together a brochure that could would alert women to their legal rights and entitlements if they have been sexually assaulted.
Tompkins County Task Force for Battered Women: The Task Force provides emotional support, weekly support groups, advocacy and referrals, and emergency shelter to battered women. The student who most recently undertook this internship spent a considerable amount of time in court, helping to track the progress of cases brought by the district attorney against accused batterers. She also worked the emergency hotline.
Tompkins County Human Rights Commission: The Human Rights Commission works to challenge and prevent race, gender, and sexual preference discrimination in housing, employment, and the criminal justice system. An intern recently placed in the office was involved with research related to juvenile justice issues in the county. He conducted interviews with staff in the District Attorney's office, to attempt to determine where differential treatment occurs between minority and non-minority offenders. His final project involved oral and written reports to the commission.
Office of Assemblyman Barbara Lifton: Students interested in learning about the legislative process are encouraged to consider an internship at Barbara Lifton's office. Assemblywoman Lifton has been taking on student interns for over a decade, and they are experienced in the process of introducing students to a variety of tasks, including constituency services and legislative research. The office is small and personable, but also very professionally run. Spring interns typically take at least one trip to Albany with the Ms. Lifton.
Office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey: This is also an excellent office to work in. Students are typically involved with research and constituency services. This Fall (2000) Semester, the Congressman's Office is looking for a full-time intern for the Washington, DC office.
City of Ithaca Department of Planning: Students interested in environmental and planning issues are advised to consider a position with the city's planning department. The department reviews all major construction projects in terms of their impacts on environmental and quality of life issues. Students learn how to read and interpret environmental impact statements. Planning and development are currently hot topics in the city's politics.
Youth Bureau: Students interested in working with kids are definitely encourage to consider an internship with the Youth Bureau. It involves organizing recreational activities, giving help and encouragement with school work, and acting as a mentor for middle and high school students who often come from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. This can be a rewarding experience for IC students interested in education as well as issues of wealth and poverty.
Alternatives Credit Union: Students with an interest in economic development should think about an internship with Alternatives. This non-profit credit union is organized to help economically disadvantaged person gain access to credit, find money for education and mortgages, and to start their own small businesses. The idea for Ithaca Dollars was initiated by a young person working at Alternatives. There are lots of opportunities here to learn about the relationships between politics and community development issues.
Lama Law Firm: Luciana Lama has a general practice law firm in Ithaca. He has taken on IC interns for over a decade. Students help with legal research, interview defendants in the county jail, and actively participate with Mr. Lama in determinations regarding how to proceed in some cases. This internship provides a unique opportunity for students to get a sense of how a small law firm deals with a variety of criminal and civil issues.
Prisoners Legal Services: The State of New York are granted free legal counsel through local and regional branches of PLS. Such services have never been a high priority for state lawmakers, so that they often can use the assistance of interns for intake interviews and the like. For any student considering law school after graduate, especially one interested in the public interest aspects of law, this internship is highly recommended.