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A Capitol Experience

Gerald MarksGerald Marks ’13 puts PoliScimajor to work as intern for Assemblyman Abbate

Before Gerald Marks spent a semester working for Assemblyman Peter J. Abbate in Albany, New York, he was skeptical about going into a career in public service.

“That wasn’t the path I would have taken a year ago,” says the 2013 graduate, a political science major. “Now that I’ve experienced the internship, I’m definitely looking at pursuing work in Albany.”

One of just a half-dozen Stony Brook students last year who snagged a choice internship in the New York State legislature, Gerald feels lucky to have been assigned to the senior Assemblyman from Brooklyn, who is chair of the Governmental Employees Committee and a member of several other committees.

“It was a great office to work for,” says Gerald. “The staff was a lot of fun to work with. Assemblyman Abbate has been in the Assembly since 1986, so he’s very well known, and I was able to learn a lot from him.”

On a typical day Gerald picked up the mail in the morning, answered phone calls throughout the day and set up meetings with lobbyists or constituents. On Mondays and Tuesdays there were often dozens of people lined up in the hallway who were there to present their case for funding or why they needed legislation passed.

“I did some bill memo writing myself,” says Gerald, who is from Rouses Point, New York. “I worked closely with our legislative director for chief of staff, making sure things that we wanted done got pushed along the bill process, were actually drafted into bills and pushed through committees. The internship definitely opened up my eyes about how the legislative process works and who the key players are.”

Gerald Marks - Albany DayGerald found the internship through Stony Brook’s Career Center, which guides students through the application process and placement in a wide variety of off-campus opportunities. He was one of six undergraduates completing a legislative internship during the spring semester, five of whom interned in the New York State Assembly and one in the State Senate. In addition to meeting constituents, tracking bills and doing legislative research, interns also attend weekly forums on legislative processes and complete a research paper. State Senate interns participate in a mock legislative session.

“These internships give students an insider’s view of how our state government functions,” says Marianna Savoca, Director of the Career Center. “These are paid opportunities for students of any major who wish to gain hands-on experience working side by side with and for our legislators. There's no better way to learn about how government functions.”

“It really broadened my network,” says Gerald. “Now I know lobbyists and organizations that I worked with while I was in Albany who are great contacts to keep in touch with and help me with my job search.”

By Toby Speed


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