When he signed up for Macalester’s legislative politics class, Reed Polakowski ’13 (Minneapolis) thought he’d be interning for a state senator or representative. Instead, he ended up in the office of Minnesota’s governor, Mark Dayton.
“I was nervous to meet him but he’s a really nice guy,” says Polakowski of the new governor, formerly a U.S. senator from Minnesota. The political science major didn’t spend a lot of time with the busy governor, but instead worked largely with his policy advisers researching organizations and bills going through the legislature and preparing briefings for the governor. “I followed a lot of tax committees, especially the proposal to change how local government aid will be distributed,” says Polakowski.
He spent 10 hours a week working at the capitol, and another 3 hours a week in the legislative politics class taught by political science professor Julie Dolan. With the other three classes he took last term to help fulfill his environmental science and studio arts minors, Polakowski was one busy guy.
But it was well worth it, he says. “Before this, I thought working in politics would be too much, but I found working at the state level quite enjoyable. State politicians do things that are really relevant to most people’s lives.”
The class and its required political internship truly supported and reinforced each other, he says. “I got a lot more out of the internship because of the class and vice versa.”
Although there were eight applicants for every state legislative internship last semester, Dolan and internship director Mike Porter made sure that every member of the legislative politics class landed somewhere relevant, Polakwoski says.
He liked his experience so much that he worked for several weeks past the end of the school year, so he could see out the legislative session. Says Polakowski, “It has been a really great experience.”