While Chicagoans may be able to talk about (and criticize) how city government operates, for most of us, our involvement with the political process ends at the voting booth.
But rising sophomore Maura Rocks, a political science and theology student, wanted to get an insider’s perspective on city government this summer and landed a 10-week internship in Alderman Debra Silverstein’s office as the city council intern for the 50th Ward.
Rocks says her American politics course last year, taught by Brendan Horan, S.J., played a pivotal role in motivating her to investigate the realm of city government.
“Father Horan was very helpful in sparking my interest in politics and helping me understand how politics work,” she says.
It was through a fellow classmate that Rocks learned of the city council intern position. When Rocks saw the internship on RamblerLink, she decided to apply and is thankful to have such a valuable experience.
As a city council intern, Rocks acts primarily as the first line of contact between the 50th Ward constituents and Alderman Silverstein’s office.
“I typically answer phones and do constituent services,” she says. “I’ve also been able to attend a city council meeting downtown and that was really interesting.”
Dealing with constituent needs and observing how city officials work to fulfill those needs has given Rocks a better understanding and a deeper appreciation of local government.
“Being a resident myself, I never thought about who cleaned my streets, repaved them, or who brought commerce to my neighborhood.”
She says this internship has shown her that city officials are the “heart and soul” of a city’s inner workings.
“The people in these offices are problem solvers,” Rocks says. “They are the ones who get things done. They are an invaluable resource.”
With a new appreciation for internships, Rocks has cited her time working for the 50th Ward as a great learning and networking experience. But with many other applicants for the internship, Rocks was not a shoe-in for the position; she had just finished her first year of college and had no prior political experience. But Rocks believes that Alderman Silverstein, who conducted the interview, was impressed by the fact that she was attending Loyola University Chicago.
“I think that’s a testament to the Loyola education,” Rocks says. “I think the fact that I was a Loyola student was part of the reason I got the job.”
Before she has even finished her internship, Rocks has decided that city government is in her future.
“I think this is an excellent experience for me,” she says. “It’s an inspiration for me because I have found a passion for government and public service, and I can see myself working in those areas in the future.”