After stepping into his office at the Wisconsin State Capitol, University of Wisconsin sophomore Peter Luck said he knew he would never work in an office like it again.
As as an intern for Rep. Mandy Wright, D-Wausau, Luck said he has always wanted to work in politics but never imagined himself working in the Capitol.
“During the press conference, it was exactly like what I had seen on C-SPAN or CNN, standing next to my chief of staff, watching Mandy speak about the bill she co-wrote and why it was a good thing and fielding questions from reporters,” Luck said.
Anna Fiedler, a former intern for Gov. Scott Walker, said her internship was more limited than other legislative internships because Walker’s office has a larger staff.
During her summers in high school, Fiedler worked at the office of U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen, R-Minnesota, which was very different than her experience in Walker’s office.
While she was limited to constituent relations at Walker’s office, Fiedler said she performed a variety of tasks at Paulsen’s office because it was a much smaller staff.
Working at Walker’s office was not as glamorous as people assumed, Fiedler said.
“The reaction saying you work for any political figure, a governor, a state senator, people are always like, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s so cool,’ but then you tell them you work in a back room and you’re obviously doing intern duties,” Fiedler said. “So it’s amazing at first, and then you say, ‘This is what I actually do.’”
However Chuck Adams, an intern with Senate Minority Leader Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, said he enjoys working with a larger staff and the other senators who work with Larson in his role as minority leader.
“It is just interesting because you get to see most of other Democratic senators and interact with them as they come to the office,” Adams said.
Luck said he was surprised to learn many politicians are staff members are down-to-earth and more casual.
“You have this idea of how you see politicians, reading off talking points and saying what they’re supposed to say, but working in the office itself is like talking to friends,” Luck said.
With his experience working at a party leader’s office, Adams said he recognizes the partisan spirit in the Capitol.
Most Senate votes are 18-15, right down party lines, Adams said.
“It just seems very contentious between both parties in that we don’t want to get along,” Adams said. “It just seems very bipolar and very polar opposite of each other.”
Fiedler said she did not see partisan issues since she was working in constituent relations, but often got negative responses from Madison residents when she told them of her internship.
However, Fiedler said the experience working at Walker’s office is beneficial for her future plans, regardless of her political beliefs.
“I do lean a little more to the right, but people perceived it more as my personal view,” Fiedler said. “But really it was about my major and how it would help me.”