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York College Political Science major wraps up internship in U.S. Capitol

September 27, 2018
Nick Shields, political science major

The halls of the U.S. Capitol in Washington can be a pretty intimidating place for a college intern.

But for Nick Shields, a York College of Pennsylvania Political Science major who just completed a semester in the office of U.S. Congressman Scott Perry, that wasn’t the case.

“York College got me ready for this internship,” Nick says.

Real world issues

Nick says from day one, his York College professors related issues to how they impact the community.

“At the state and local level, if we were discussing property taxes, we always tied these issues back to how they impact the community,” Nick says.

Typical of this was Dr. Loni Smith, who used her deep ties to the community to bring in local government leaders to speak to her classes.

“She always tied the politics of the issues into the life of the community,” Nick says.

Dr. John Altman did the same in his Political Analysis class.

“This could have been boring, we were crunching numbers,” Nick says. “But it was enjoyable. For example, we looked at infrastructure. Pennsylvania has the second highest number of deficient bridges in the nation. We looked at how issues like this play into how people vote based on these priorities.”

From classroom to Congress

When Nick applied for and got an internship with Congressman Perry, who represents York, Adams and parts of Cumberland and Dauphin counties, he was able to put this rubber-meets-the-road knowledge to work immediately.

“I found working with constituents very satisfying. They call the office to get answers and help,” Nick says.

That’s where understanding how political issues impact real people helps.

“Constituents called about immigration issues, and the farm bill that was being debated in Washington. “Being able to provide answers was important,” he says. “Also, people have problems with the government, maybe with Social Security or the Veterans Administration, bread and butter issues. It was great handling this case work.”

Looking to the future

Nick graduates next spring. His immediate future includes National Guard service in Georgia, taking officer leaders courses and enrolling in ranger school. But the Dallastown, York County, native plans to return and stay involved in politics and government.

“I’ve volunteered on several state legislative, congressional, and statewide campaigns, and I want to work in the legislative staff area,” Nick says, noting his internship experiences working on issues and through the legislative process, as well as handling constituent problems, will be valuable for him.

“In 20 years or so, I may run for office,” he says. “My community means a lot to me, but I want to get a good deal of experience first.”

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