At this point in the pandemic, we’ve seen so many of our routine events and opportunities evolve. The internship and job market has been upended by COVID-19, and everything has gone virtual from Zoom weddings, to Zoom funerals and even classroom instruction has migrated to Zoom.
But what about a Zoom politics internship?
This summer on Mondays through Wednesdays, over 120 young people in the region have been glued to their devices for five straight hours; not to chat with friends, play video games or go on Tik Tok, but instead to participate in a political internship that is student-centric and allows for a one on one rapport between fxellow interns, Josh and other local politicians.
In a time of so much uncertainty, Josh Lafazan’s Virtual Government Internship Program is addressing this unprecedented and unpredictable time by offering students from middle school through college the opportunity to learn invaluable leadership skills.
While most internships are centered around what interns can contribute to an organization, Lafazan’s program is aimed at preparing the next generation of young leaders. Consistent with the theme of youth empowerment, the program is led and directed by UPenn rising senior, Chase Serota, at age 20, and employs five intern coordinators as young as 16.
A typical day starts with a series of local, national and international news briefs presented by the interns.
Legislator Lafazan then comes in to present his “Lesson of the Day” which has included topics such as, the state of veteran’s affairs on Long Island, the fight against opioid addiction or the importance of advocating for the most vulnerable members of our society.
Next, a leader from within the community is invited to speak with a group of over a hundred students.
The roster of guest speakers has included local leaders such as Congressman Tom Suozzi, NYS Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, County Executive Laura Curran, Suffolk County Sheriff Errol Toulon, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, among others in the fields of business, law and even young Gen Z entrepreneurs.
Interns are then split into breakout rooms to deliver speeches with a wide range of themes meant to prepare them for an array of public speaking scenarios that are associated with political life.
Within these groups, the interns also get involved in hot button topics, ranging from the 2020 election and the removal of historical statues and monuments to DACA and the state of healthcare in America.
Following these groups, interns are tasked with researching an issue or policy area with the goal of drafting legislation for Legislator Lafazan to introduce within the Legislature.
At the culmination of the program, one bill will be chosen as the most outstanding piece of legislation, and attempts will be made by Legislator Lafazan to introduce this bill into the full legislature.
Lafazan’s embodiment of the next generation’s new breed of politicians is what is making young people excited about politics.
Below is a link to Zoom-Lafazan Summer Intern Program 2020.
Meeting ID: 874 6880 3268