• Janice K. Lee

My Legislative Internship || TRENTON, NJ

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

School ended only a few days ago, and already it's been shaping up as an unforgettable summer.

On June 21, I took a trip to Trenton to the New Jersey State House for one of its last sessions before break. I was invited by Assemblyman Roy Freiman, as I recently started interning for him.

Looking from the car to the way there, I (along with one other intern I was with) noticed a beautiful, golden dome shining above the trees. It was the top of the State House, and believably, it is made of real gold. The first thing that happened upon entering the State House Building was a security check. After passing through identification, we went through a hall filled with lobbyists, and after several twists and turns of confusing hallways, into a lounge room that led to a Caucus room- which was probably one of the fanciest things I saw. 

The moment upon entering the lounge, I saw staff talking to their assemblymen and women, people talking and conversing with one another, everyone dressed up in professional attire. The best description to the average reader would be a Model UN/Congress but amped to reality and ten times the seriousness and chaos. The place smelled of coffee, appropriately, as even being in the caucus room was enough to tire one out. The caucus room was filled with individual desks designed with name placards for each assemblymember (and evidently, I stood there looking at Zwicker and Freiman's gold name plate for a good seven seconds). There were muffins, bagels, and wait for it... coffee, waiting in the back of the room. It was also where the other interns and I gathered while waiting for the clock to hit 11:00 am to be kicked out. During that time I got to know Zwicker's interns, and we all spent a good time absorbing what we were seeing from the back. Meanwhile, Freiman and his staff were looking through a giant binder filled with resolutions.

As 11:00 hit, the interns and I were kicked out, and Freiman's staff (keeping names off the list for certain reasons) gave a tour of the State House, which was one of my favorite parts of the day. The building was extravagant, to say the least. Even by walking the wooden stairway, you can feel the weight of responsibilities that come with those who regularly walk it. The ceilings were also beautiful, and I remember the staff commenting the House is a mix of modern and traditional architecture.  There was a lot of symbolism through the details of the floors, ceilings, art, and other visuals that displayed the finch and other aspects of nature. There was a ceramic statue of a tree and finches in the center of a floor which was a memorabilia of Trenton's old central trade. Next to the ceramic there was a wing of all of the county flags, draped down from their poles and all gathered like it was a meeting.


Following the tour, we returned to the lounge, where "Freiman's team" (his staff and his interns, me) looked into the endless list of resolutions and marked which ones seemed the priorities according to Freiman's general interests and policies. After some time of that, we went to lunch.


After coming back in, the staff led us to where the real fun resided- the floor. It was a moment l won't be able to forget. As we were casually walking through the halls, he led us up the stairs, to which I almost gasped when we reached the middle of the steps and I saw the immense floor room, surrounded with white and gold. I was still in a state of shock while looking around while our staff had to run around getting special visitor's passes for me and the other intern (btw, that special pass is now sitting in my room in a frame). We walked over to Freiman's seat, which was gadgeted with buttons (yes, no, abstain, etc) and a lamp. Soon, the assemblymembers and their staff began filling the room, where you can feel their conversations and experiences taking over. All the meanwhile, the staff began telling other stories and fun facts about the building. One of the coolest parts of the floor was a scoreboard-like board with all of the Assemblypersons' names and a green/red/yellow light. Everytime someone pushed a button, the respective color would shine on the board, letting everyone know of who voted which way. After having pictures and conversations with Freiman, the other interns and I sat over at the back, spectating the entire process. The entire process was a rush and wait. Members would rush to get things done, and then there would be waiting periods filled with thinking and reflecting, then it would be rush all over again, then wait all over again. It was almost like a rhythm of movements that circulated within the building and got things going. 


One of the last things I did was edit a press release for a resolution that was co-sponsored by Freiman, regarding a bill on New Jersey businesses and making it a more attractive place for local businesses. Although the writers initially disregarded most of our edits, it eventually got through and released soon after.



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About the Author

Janice Lee is a Sophomore studying Marketing, Accounting, and Entrepreneurship at Rutgers Business School. When she's not looking at business plans, she's most likely on her Oculus Go, experimenting to brew the best iced coffee, or writing about it.

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