We have all know what intern work looks like. Grabbing coffee for every member of the office, making thousands of copies, and generally being incredibly bored are staples of the standard internship. This is what I expected for my internship with Alliance for a Better Utah. I can’t be more grateful that that is not what happened. Four months after my timid introduction to the Better Utah team, I can appreciate the experience I had.
Instead of memorizing everyone’s coffee order, I partake in way too many Cadbury eggs that someone brings to the office. Instead of making a thousand copies of old files, I tackle real projects, like the ACA report. I spent months reading through heartbreaking healthcare related stories that Utahns entrusted to Better Utah, and then compiled all the data into a report we sent to all our federal delegation. Most importantly, I felt like part of the team (except when we are all ferociously competing against each other in a typing test, then it is every man for himself). I felt honest camaraderie on those tough Monday mornings when we all just wanted to be asleep, and I felt real concern from my coworkers when I was ill or down. Most of all I felt an honest ribbing and delivered in turn.
But beyond my own personal work experience, I learned what important work Alliance for a Better Utah does. I witnessed first hand that Better Utah was able to give a figurative microphone to those who felt ignored by their representatives when it came to the healthcare they needed. I aided Better Utah as it worked tirelessly trying to help the public make sense of all the craziness during the legislative session. I watched as Better Utah kept our federal delegation accountable and as it extended its hand to grassroots organizations. I learned that the work that Better Utah does to create a new narrative is invaluable and that just a few people with passion and some computers can change a political atmosphere.
As a member of Generation Z/iGeneration, I struggled to find a way to meaningfully contribute in the political realm. Too many of my peers click “like” and give themselves a pat on the back. Too many feel that following CNN, Equality Utah, and Planned Parenthood on social media equate to voting or campaigning. In the aftermath of the election, coming to my internship everyday ready to work relieved some of the anger and anxiety I was feeling. So if I may have the audacity to advise my peers in any way, I would encourage plunging their hands elbow deep in work for actual change.
Another thing that Alliance for a Better Utah does well but Generation Z doesn’t is respecting the views of the other side. Our primary method of communication, social media exacerbates the extreme polarization of views and ugly “Twitter fights” can break out. Alliance for a Better Utah stands staunchly by its principles, but respects the people who have opposing views. I would also encourage my peers to move off of their screens to recognize the actual human they are talking to, not the Twitter handle.
I’ll always look at my time here fondly and as an important growth experience. If I can handle the crazy politics of Utah, college should be easy.