Dual Internships Inform Lia Parker-Belfer's ’16 Pursuit of Social Justice
While many choose to relax over the summer, Lia Parker-Belfer ’16 has been advancing her academic and professional interests through dual internships in Washington D.C.: one at recently-established consulting firm Three Point Strategies and the other in the office of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Parker-Belfer, a government major with a Chinese and environmental studies double minor, is receiving support for both internships through the Summer Internship Support Fund, managed by Hamilton's Career and Life Outcomes Center.
Parker-Belfer had met Jessica Byrd, the principal strategist at Three Point Strategies, through her internship at EMILY’s List during the spring semester, while she was participating in Hamilton’s Washington D.C. Program. Remembering that Byrd had just departed EMILY’s List to start her own political consulting firm, Parker-Belfer reached out to secure a summer internship.
During her six weeks as intern at Three Point Strategies she spent significant time working on strategic planning and long-term goal setting for “The Pathway Project,” a program funded by the Women Donors Network (WDN) to develop a long-term system of recruitment and support for candidates of color.
In mid-July Parker-Belfer transitioned to her current work in Warren’s office, working primarily on the investigation that the senator launched in April into rewards and incentives offered to annuities dealers advising retirees.
“(The Senator) sent letters to 15 of the country’s largest annuity providers asking for information about the incentives they offer, the number and value of the incentives awarded, and companies’ policies for disclosing these potential conflicts of interests,” she explained. “I’m currently helping the office analyze the companies’ responses and conducting additional research.”
Parker-Belfer is also responsible for processing constituents’ correspondence, attending briefings and hearings on behalf of the Senator, writing memos for her legislative team, and attending the Senator’s personal hearings, press conferences, speeches and votes.
These internships interested Parker-Belfer for distinct, yet not unalike reasons, each informed by a passion for social justice.
“As a Chinese-American woman who aspires to run for office one day, I’m particularly excited by The Pathway Project,” she said. Parker-Belfer observed that in a country comprised of 37% of people of color, yet with a Congress that is around 90% Caucasian, she believes strongly that American society could benefit from “a more representative and diverse governing body.”
She also admires Warren’s focus on the issues facing the middle class in her rhetoric and political pursuits, saying that “(Warren) is fighting for a country where all citizens have the ability to succeed and are not taken advantage of, or disregarded, due to their wealth or lack thereof.”
Though she said that she’s not entirely sure of her plan post-graduation, Parker-Belfer claimed that she could easily envision herself working for an advocacy group or political campaign right after college. She also mentioned a potential career in political consulting, explaining that she is “trying to determine where I can have the biggest impact with my current skillset and past work experience.”
Ultimately, she said, the end-game lies in a run for office at either the state, local or federal level.
For now though, Parker-Belfer said that she’s been extremely pleased with both of her opportunities this summer, and has taken valuable lessons away from both.
Perhaps the biggest lesson, however, has come from her time with Senator Warren. “If I have learned anything from interning at (The Senator’s) office, it is that you don’t get what you don’t fight for,” she said. “Progress doesn’t just happen, it requires a lot of hard work and is often a grueling uphill battle. During many of her recent speeches, Senator Warren asked audience members if they were willing to fight the progressive fight,” Parker-Belfer noted. “My response has always been, and continues to be, a resounding ‘yes.’”