Millikin University - Decatur, IL

Tasha Leonard Interview with St. Louis Alderman

How did you obtain your internship?  What was the process? 

I actually met my boss through job shadowing my father, Brian Leonard. He had done a lot of work politically being a lobbyist at Ameren. I was at his function and started speaking with Mr. McMillan about what he did as the License Collector and his past responsibilities as an Alderman. I told him I was interested in politics and he told me right away if I can ever help you let me know. Later in the year when I couldn’t find work and wanted some experience for summer I gave Mr. McMillan a call. I went over to his office and met a former intern, now turned employee, who also attended Millikin for two years and was very excited to meet me. Then I met my supervisor Charlotte Ottley. I looked up Mr. McMillan and Charlotte Ottley and both had resumes out of this world so naturally I was nervous. 

Where are or did you intern? Briefly, what does/did your internship entail? 

I interned at St. Louis City Hall in the Office of the License Collector of Michael McMillan and St. Louis Community Empowerment Foundation (STLCEF). At his office I did media, administrative duties, planning, meetings, communications, and helped with events. With STLCEF I dealt with outreach, communication, speaking with the public and volunteering. In addition, I interned for Alderwoman Kacie Starr Triplett. I did event planning, and a Renter’s Know Your Right Meeting where I planned it and then ran the meeting for a local low income and rehab housing unit in the St. Louis Area. At this meeting I met with the renters, attorneys and police officers to make sure all their needs were met as a tenant in St. Louis. 

What aspects of your internship do/did you enjoy most? Find most challenging? 

I enjoyed the volunteering and going to the Alderman Board meeting. I enjoyed the volunteering because it is great when you get to see a change in your community. I got to help planning which made it even more special. I am a big kid at heart so when I got to give prizes to the kids and teach them how important education was and interact; I was in my job heaven. In addition, seeing the politicians at the board meeting come out of their mask of pure professionalism was interesting. When you see people true passions come out it shows you a whole different prospective of legislation and government officials. I think the most challenging part of my internship is that my supervisor put a lot of trust in me to get big projects done efficiently and with a quality outcome. It was not so much a challenge, but a change in roles. Being a student you’re told what to do, you do it to the best of your ability and turn it in. In my internship they gave me the project said plan it, organize it, come up with your creative ideas and present it to us this is all on you. It was just a different type of pressure, but a great experience to learn about organization, communication, work ethic and goals. 

How does/did your internship relate to what you have been studying at Millikin? 

Being a Political Science major I got to see how the local government works. I got to experience legislation and political basics that you cannot always get out of the text book. There is nothing like getting the experience hands on. In addition, I got to see how government agencies and non-profits work together to create a sustainable community. 

Has your internship given you any insight into what you would like to do upon graduating from Millikin? 

I think my internship gave me insight on what I have to accomplish to do what I want in the political field. Before this summer I did not want to get a law degree nor did I want to obtain a Masters. I talked to the Aldermen and my Supervisor and they think it is important to carry on in higher education as long as it will benefit me positively once I get out. After talking to Professor Gentry about a Masters Degree, she suggested one in Public Administration which I now have been looking up to see if this is what I’m interested in. I think internships give you a way to see if what you’re majoring in and dreaming of is something you want to do, and it becomes your road map of what you should do after graduation.  
Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL