As the second session of the 28th Alaska Legislature revs up for work this week, readers of Seawolf Weekly will have the opportunity to hear a student perspective on doings in our capital city in special “postcards home.” Students from all three University of Alaska campuses are participating in the legislative session as aides to senators or representatives. Two UAA students took on the challenge of sharing some impressions of their semester of work as a legislative aide, including finding housing, getting to know a new city, working in a team and watching state government in action.
Our first installment comes from Hans Rodvik, a political science major with a deep passion for understanding politics and the political process. This semester finds him working in the office of Senator Majority Leader John Coghill, a small business owner from Fairbanks.
Jan. 7, 2014
Journal Entry #1: Landing the Position and Securing Housing
Before I tell the story of how I got into the University of Alaska’s exceptional Legislative Internship Program, was placed with a legislator, and found a place to live in our capital city, I would like to share some information about myself. I was born and raised in Anchorage and have lived in Alaska my whole life. I graduated from A.J. Dimond High School in 2011, and now attend the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA). Go Seawolves!
I am a junior majoring in political science, minoring in public administration, and will graduate in the spring of 2015. I am active in multiple clubs on campus, specifically: the UAA College Republicans, the UAA Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, and the UAA Political Science Association. Politics, law and economics have always been of great interest to me. With urging from close friends I applied for the internship in the fall of 2013, and to my great joy I was accepted.
Getting accepted was the first major hurdle, but next came the process of pairing myself with a legislator. As you might imagine, dealing with some of the most powerful and influential people in Alaska was exciting and a bit nerve-wracking. Roughly half a dozen legislators or members of their staff contacted me, asking if I would intern for them. I politely informed each legislator that I appreciated their offers, but needed time to think things through.
Going into the internship I knew that I wanted to work for a legislator who believed in the same principles as me on an array of public policy issues. I also wanted to intern for a state senator rather than a state representative, because former interns had told me that I would be assigned more work on pieces of legislation in the Senate as compared to the House.
Being a strong conservative Republican I personally reached out to Senate Majority Leader Senator John Coghill (Fairbanks) and his chief of staff, asking if they would consider me as an intern. Senator Coghill and his chief of staff reviewed my application packet, and before I knew it a meeting was set up for Senator Coghill to fly to Anchorage and interview me.
The meeting with Senator Coghill went perfectly. After roughly an hour of sharing our political and economic principles, along with our Christian faith, I was offered the position and enthusiastically accepted. I was given a list of duties which include: attend daily and weekly meetings, help pass pieces of legislation, serve as Senator Coghill’s committee aide, and deal with constituent-related work.
I was thrilled to be accepted as Senator Coghill’s intern but my work was not over. Then I had to locate a place to live in Juneau. My housing search began and ended on trustworthy Craigslist, however it was quite a drawn out process due to the craziness of finals week. A close friend of mine also was accepted into the internship, so we decided to live together to cut down on costs.
We called two separate places about renting, one located out in ‘the valley’ (a 10-20 minute car drive) from the capitol in downtown Juneau and the other located in downtown. Both of these properties fell through on us, and so we continued the search. Shortly after the downtown option fell through I found a perfect two-bedroom, fully furnished home that was just a 10-minute walk from the capitol.
After a day of talking to the owner we agreed to rent the place from Jan. 13 until April 20, when the legislative session ends. The place I will be living in was built in the 1930s, and has a great view of the downtown area. As I finish writing I am scrambling to wrap things up in town before I fly down on Jan. 13. Stay tuned for further updates about my journey in Juneau everyone, and yes I promise photos will be included!