Twenty rising sophomores are spending the summer completing career-related experiences through First-Year Forward, through Hamilton’s Career Center. At the beginning of the year these students committed to regular group meetings, career counseling session, and skill-building assignments. Their goals are to develop skills in communication, networking and interviewing, and to assess their own strengths and career interests. Internships this summer will help them to define and build toward career goals.
Betsy Ramirez ’19 has been interested in a career in public service for a logn time. As she says, “I feel a passion for helping people and speaking for citizens who cannot speak for themselves.” Before this summer, she believed a legal career would be the best way to do that. However, now she is interning in the marketing and communications division of New York City’s Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA). Through first-hand experience, she’s learning about the important impact effective communications can make on public opinion and policy.
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
High School: The School for Advanced Studies
DCA is a consumer protection agency that inspects businesses, mediates consumer complaints, and enforces protections for workers. For Ramirez, a typical day starts with compiling news articles. She’ll look for recent stories that mention the DCA’s work and distribute them to the department, then write press releases about the DCA’s newest bill, event or study. Ramirez says that by working on these releases, she has “gained a lot of experience being concise in my writing and consolidating ideas.”
On many days, Ramirez will travel to City Hall to sit in on hearings for bills related to the DCA’s work. For example, she has recently been tracking the new bill signed by NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio that protects consumers from ticket sellers. Ramirez writes notes and takes photos that are often published on the agency’s social media accounts. One of her photos was even picked up by the Gotham Gazette. In addition, Ramirez translates documents, interviews workers and attends community outreach events.
The rising sophomore credits the Career Center’s First Year Forward program with providing her with the tools she used to find and obtain her internship. Through her personal network, she learned about the DCA, which seemed like a perfect fit for her interests in community outreach and business. After working with the Career Center on polishing a resume and cover letter, she succeeded in getting the internship.
Ramirez was drawn to work for the DCA because, she said, “the work they do is important and vital to the well-being of the city’s workers.” She was impressed by what the agency has accomplished in the past, such as the 2014 passage of a bill ensuring that all workers, regardless of immigration status, are entitled to paid sick leave. “As a daughter of immigrant parents and growing up in a community heavily populated by immigrants,” Ramirez said, “I saw how employers took advantage of worker’s necessities and violated basic rights. An agency like DCA that is dedicated to the protection of rights and working conditions truly resonates with me.”
Ramirez’s time with the DCA has expanded her perspective about how to achieve change. She explained, “I’ve always been very determined to pursue a legal career, but through my internship in the communications department I have learned that there are different ways to use policy and effect change,” she remarked. “Strategic press releases and interviews can change the public’s opinion on a bill or, even more critical, it can change a council member’s opinion of a bill and increase the likelihood of it being approved.” Moving forward, Ramirez will have a wider reserve of skills and knowledge to draw on when working to help citizens who need protection and representation.