Internship field report, a Q&A with Maisy Sylvan (BA ’17) @ Boston City Council

July 26, 2016

This internship field report is submitted by Maisy Sylvan (BA '17), who served Boston City Council President Michelle Wu.

Q. Where are you interning and how are you liking it?

Sylvan. This summer, I’m interning under Boston City Council President Michelle Wu. Councilor Wu is the youngest serving member of the Council, and the first ever Asian American woman to hold the position of Council President in any major city. Alongside a number of other groundbreaking and accomplished councilors, Michelle Wu and the Boston City Council represent a vision of progress, diversity, and attentive legislative action that I hope to see in any future I pursue in the world of policy.

Q. What's your BA focus area and how does this internship relate?

Sylvan. Last year, I declared a focus area in Environmental Law and Policy. My policy interests extend across a variety of social justice issues including reproductive justice, income inequality, and civil rights issues. I chose to concentrate in environmental justice because of the urgent and serious nature of climate change, and the unmet need for political action addressing the challenges facing our environment. I intend to pursue a career in environmental law. Boston City Council’s legislative history is in keeping with progressive and environmental agendas. As an intern at the city council, I was able to express my personal views and interests to inform potential legislation relating to the environment and related issues.

Q. Tell us what you've learned about your internship host organization, the work it does, and why that work matters. 

Sylvan. Boston City Council is the legislative branch for the City of Boston. My internship honed my understanding of city-level legislative process, making it clear how policies and initiatives gain traction and become law. My new knowledge of smaller-scale government complimented my understanding of the federal legislative processes I experienced in my internship under Congressman Jim McGovern in the summer of 2015. City level legislation is catered to the city it governs, which lends greater flexibility to lawmakers. Boston’s progressive political culture granted me the freedom to address policy topics I was passionate about, including legislation related to environmental policies and animal rights. I felt that the smaller political domain alleviated the gridlock apparent in my previous internship in federal politics.

Q. What's surprised you--about the organization, the work, or the issues?

Sylvan. I was surprised by the intimate nature of city government and the high level of council-constituent interaction. This included special assistance to needy citizens and in depth conversations with everyday Bostonians. I enjoyed learning about the individual goals, interests, and needs of each councilor and their respective districts.

Q. Where is the organization located, and what's it like there?

Sylvan. Boston City Council is located in Government Center. Government Center is an exciting area. It is the center of the Boston political scene as well as a popular destination for tourism. It’s within earshot of Faneuil Hall, and within walking distance of other popular destination including the North End and Boston Commons.

Q. What has this internship taught you? And how has it been helpful to you as a young professional? 

Sylvan. Interning for Boston City Council was a helpful experience in both narrowing and expanding my interests in policy making. After having the opportunity to explore the capacity for animal rights in policy, I further developed my interests in this area of policy, which I may use to guide my career objectives in the future. Interning for Boston City Council also offered the benefit of direct and active participation in the policy making process. In this way, I gained a deep understanding of the nuances of legislative politics and governmental priorities, which will enhance my ability to initiate and expedite political change in the future. As a young professional, I also gained exposure to valuable networks, and developed meaningful connections with Council staff and other co-interns.

Q. What are your most memorable experiences of the summer?

Sylvan. My most memorable experiences this summer came from exploring the Boston City area and nearby neighborhoods, and enjoying it all with some of my closest and most long-lasting friends.