On Monday, the 20th of May we saw the Minnesota Legislature session come to a close, and with that comes the end of my time as this year’s Todd Otis Public Policy Intern. This has been one of the greatest professional experiences of my life and I cannot wait to carry the knowledge that I have gained into my career. I have always known that I loved to work with kids, and now know how to be a champion on their behalf.

Alex Metchnek and Marie Huey outside the State Capitol for Advocacy for ֱren Day.

Growing up I always had a passion for working with children. I spent time as a babysitter and nanny, a Montessori school assistant, and even managed a Pump It Up for several years in high school. As I progressed through my studies at the University of Kansas, I developed an interest in community systems and particularly in how we can bolster community health by focusing resources on our littlest learners to ensure that they start their educational careers on the right path. When I moved back to Minnesota and stumbled upon the listing for this internship, I knew that I had to apply. As much as I loved Psychology and Applied Behavioral Science, my major and minor in college, I had come to love policy as well. It was clear that this position would be a perfect fit to help me grow my knowledge of these topics.

Alex, Ericca Maas, and Marie at the Capitol

During my time as intern I did so many things that you would have thought I spent a whole year, not just 3.5 months, with ֱ! One of the greatest things about the format of this internship is that it is designed to deliver a well-rounded understanding of the space by allowing you to be present in so many different situations. I was fortunate enough to get to attend several webinars and in-person symposiums that allowed me to hear a wide range of speakers giving their testimonial to the importance of early care and education, and how we can work to bolster the community of learners, their families, and their educators. Events like the EdAllies Session Kickoff at the American-Swedish Institute, Gen Next symposium at the Science Museum, and Advocacy for ֱren Day at the Capitol stuck out as fun, memorable experiences in the community.

Alex at the Minnesota State Capitol

I also loved getting to spend time at the Capitol; I must admit that I feel a certain touch of magic every time I go into the building. I spent a lot of time listening to House ֱren and Families Finance and Policy committee meetings, both in-person and virtually. I really loved getting to experience how a law comes into being up close and personally. I found the debates to be enthralling and was fascinated by how different members conducted themselves. I found myself feeling deeply for those who came to testify and have kept some of their stories in mind as I moved through the internship.

Before closing, it is impossible to reflect upon my time here without mentioning how phenomenal all the staff around the organization are. One of my goals for the internship was to meet with a list of about 15 people from different departments or levels of management, and each meeting was so special in its own way. I received so many resources, encouragements, and pieces of advice that I would never have gotten if it weren’t for this opportunity.I know that the knowledge I gained and experiences that I had here will carry with me for the rest of my life.

By Alex Metchnek, Todd Otis Public Policy Intern