Last summer, I received the Women in Government Fellowship to intern for Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo ’98 JD. The Women in Government Fellowship encourages Yale undergraduates to pursue political careers by participating in challenging internships with elected representatives in Congress or with elected or appointed officials in other political arenas, where students can see government and policy-making firsthand. Fellows also receive funding to enroll in the Women’s Campaign School at Yale, a five-day intensive course at Yale Law School on the basics of running a successful political campaign. Celebrating its 5th anniversary this year, the Women in Government Fellowship has made it possible for more than 40 undergraduates to attend the Campaign School and explore government work.
As a policy intern in Governor Raimondo’s Office, I conducted research, wrote memos, briefed the Governor, created presentations, and participated in interagency and nonprofit meetings. I got to see our government in action. I also had the opportunity to attend weekly “Lunch and Learn” talks for summer interns by city and government officials, which helped broaden my understanding of the range of government activities and experiences, from the local to the state to the federal level. And I participated in a few YaleWomen Rhode Island events, thanks to the generosity of Rachel Littman ’91.
I was grateful and lucky to be so close to Governor Raimondo this past summer. I was inspired by her path to public service. She talked a lot about being a trailblazing woman, and how women and other underrepresented groups have an extra obligation to serve, to break down biases, and to lead the way for others to follow. Do you know that there are only four female governors? If we don’t join in, who will? Governor Raimondo is a role model for me. Though I had never previously considered participating in government, I felt—and continue to feel—inspired to do so after my summer experience.
This past school year, building on the success of four prior summers of Women in Government Fellows, I worked with the wonderful Stephanie Waite, Senior Associate Director at Yale’s Office of Career Strategy to create programming for students, including the cohort of past WIG Fellows, interested in government on campus, from humanities majors to science majors to graduate students. We hosted a variety of events, from talks with Governor Raimondo and Ambassador Rosemary DiCarlo, Senior Fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs to workshops with School of Management and Law School students to application workshops.
As I write this piece, I have begun working for a public defender’s office in Portland, Oregon. I look forward to learning more about a different aspect of public service. I am grateful to the Women in Government Program for opening my eyes to public service, providing me with skills, and surrounding me with other dedicated women. We need more programs and fellowships like it! I’m not sure what lies ahead, though there is a good chance that public service is in my future. Having women in government matters, not only because women bring women’s issues and perspectives to the agenda and are skilled at cooperating, but also because we are half the population.
Sarah Siegel ’19