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A Young Adult's Perspective on Life with Cochlear Implants
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My Summer Internship

Posted By Miranda Meyers, Saturday, September 30, 2017
Updated: Thursday, September 28, 2017

 

As a college student, one way to build one’s resume is through the coveted summer internship. They’re getting harder to come by. More college students are competing for the few internship spots at the largest companies. I was lucky to find an internship this summer and I didn’t have to look far to find it. I interned on a local political campaign right in my hometown. The candidate I was working for is running for the New Jersey State Assembly in the 21st Legislative District. It was an amazing experience that helped me grow in so many different ways. I had a lot of fun while helping out with this campaign!

There were a lot of aspects of this internship that were made a little more difficult because of my hearing loss. There were 5 other regular interns, and we always had to go canvassing. Canvassing is knocking on doors and giving residents of the Legislative District information on our candidate. This being an off-year election, canvassing is extremely important. I had to talk to a lot people I didn’t know, which is difficult for me. I’m pretty good with talking to people face to face, but it was still anxiety inducing, especially at first. Once I did it more and more, I became more confident and my anxiety level went down. There was only one canvassing experience that was bad due to my hearing loss. I knocked on the door and a woman answered who had a very thick Central American accent. I just pretended like everything was fine and asked for the woman who I was looking for, and the lady with the accent called her. But, the woman I was looking for was upstairs, and was speaking to me from the second floor of her foyer. I could see her but I could not see her mouth and there was a very large echo. I didn’t understand a single word she said after I said my spiel. So, I just said, “Here’s the literature! Have a great day,” and I left. It was horrible, but it was just one house and I was never going to see that woman again in my life, so I just shrugged it off and moved on.

The candidate and my direct boss, the campaign manager, would often ask me about my hearing loss and how it affected me. Since it was a political internship, the topic of healthcare came up quite a bit. There were times where they would ask me my experience going through the healthcare system since I am deaf. My deafness was a pre-existing condition, which was an intense topic this summer. They often felt my perspective was important on this topic. That was one great thing about working for such a local campaign—the interns were right there in the middle of all of the action.

Another aspect of this internship was phone banking. But, my boss said I didn’t have to do that if I didn’t feel comfortable. I chose not to. It was fine as there were always several other interns who were able to make the calls. I would just do work on the computer. It’s unfortunate but I just was not comfortable talking on the phone with people I didn’t know. I have a hard enough time talking to customer service representatives on the phone so I can’t even imagine talking to someone who’s getting an unexpected phone call. Convincing a random stranger to learn more about, or possibly even support, a cause requires confidence. I wasn’t confident at all so it was a choice that I made for myself and for the campaign. I wouldn’t be helping the campaign at all and I would have just become down on myself.

As with any new group of people, the interns and my direct boss were all shocked to learn I was deaf. One of the interns didn’t even know until we had our end of summer pizza party! I’m always proud of this because it proves both my and my parents’ hard work paid off. There were times where I wouldn’t get what was going on but I would just ask someone to explain what we were doing, and it was never a problem. It’s always difficult to navigate a new work or group situation but I did it fairly well. It helped a lot that all of the interns and my direct boss were so nice. They understood that I had a disability but nonetheless I was a strong contributor. I’m really glad I had this experience this past summer. I learned a lot about politics, which I love. It was also a good “practice run” for a real, paying internship or job in the future.


Miranda with candidate Phil Murphy, who is running for Governor of NJ.

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