Brianna LaCasse (Messiah College History Dept. class of 2014) is currently doing an internship at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. We recently caught up with Brianna and asked her a few questions about her experience. Enjoy! –JF
JF: Describe your internship (title, organization, hours worked, credits)
BL: I am the archival intern with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. I intern there 25 hours a week for 9 credits.
JF: What are some of the tasks you perform during the hours you work?
BL: The Archival Department collects the floor debates and discussions, committee notes, committee reports, and personal papers of the House members. I organize, process, and place these collections in acid free folders and boxes. I went through this process with a few different sets of committee records, and through the collection of the Gettysburg Monument Project. Once they are organized and safe in the proper receptacles, I created a finding aid for the collection to be displayed in our online database for the public. I have also answered research requests from the public concerning the House of Representatives with the records available. Another ongoing project I participated in was researching, collecting, and writing biographies for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives Chief Clerks.
JF: What are you learning?
BL: By archiving a couple of different collections, I have learned the rules and requirements of proper document preservation and storage, along with learning how to create a finding aid to assist the public in their research. Through this experience, I learned the importance of removing any external office supplies, such as staples, rubber bands, and paper clips in order to save the documents from degradation. Furthermore I have become familiar with acid free paper, folders, and boxes, and the temperature requirements for archival storage rooms.
This internship has also given me the opportunity to attend workshops on political and legal matters. The first workshop was about standing committees, and was given by two executive directors—one from each political caucus. They explained that committees take proposed ideas and do the research, interviews, and detail work of constructing bills or amendments. The next workshop was on drafting legislation and the procedure that the executive director and the Representatives have to follow in order to create a bill. Finally, I attended a workshop given by the House Parliamentarian and he explained the rules of the House and what the House does on a daily basis.
JF: How do you think this internship will prepare you for future work/career/vocation?
BL: My internship has helped me further develop the written and verbal communication skills I learned at Messiah through creating finding aids, email correspondence, conducting conversations, and attending workshops. After learning about the different staff positions that support the House of Representatives and the Senate, I know that I want to work as a legislative researcher or support staffer for committees. In order to learn those skills, I attended all the workshops that were available to me, took notes, asked questions, and even followed up with a few of the presenters. In order to learn from a variety of backgrounds and positions, I asked questions of my supervisor and those in my department. I also read the committee records I processed, as well as attended public hearings that were held in the main capitol so that I could see committees in action.
JF: Thanks, Brianna.