Finding My Career Path in Advocacy
Molly Racsko describes her internship with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty advocateing for the separation of church and state to the Supreme Court.
Student Blog - Molly Racsko
This past spring, I had the incredible experience of enrolling in the SUNY Washington Internship Program, where I interned with the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC). BJC is a nonprofit that advocates for the separation of church and state by filing briefs in Supreme Court cases, advocating for and against legislation, testifying in Congress, and leading the Christians Against Christian Nationalism campaign.
I worked with every department at BJC, including communications, development, legal, and advocacy. Because of this, my daily assignments varied greatly. I handled many administrative tasks, such as answering phone calls, organizing files, and depositing donations, but also got to work on many substantive projects. Attending congressional hearings to take notes, preparing a daily roundup of news articles related to religious liberty, and compiling summaries of amicus briefs in a Supreme Court case from this term were some of the major projects I worked on throughout the semester. Because BJC is one of the organizations that the SUNY Washington Internship Program visits for its seminar component, I was also in the unique position of seeing both sides of a student visit.
The guidance of my supervisors and colleagues at BJC was invaluable in many ways. Through conversation and collaboration on projects, I gained greater insight into the policy process in DC, the inner workings of nonprofits, and the different career paths which exist in the advocacy field. I also was able to take a mini legal class with one of BJC’s lawyers, where I learned about religious liberty law and Supreme Court precedents.
Working alongside another intern at BJC and meeting with other SUNY students for our weekly seminar also meant that I had opportunities to connect with people in a similar life stage as we began to navigate our careers. It was challenging at first to overcome my nerves from starting a new job in a new city, but as I gained experience and learned more from the people around me, I developed a newfound confidence that I will carry into both my personal and professional life.
One of the most important lessons I took away from this program was insight into my own goals for the future, which was especially on my mind as I graduated this semester. The experience of day-to-day operations in an advocacy organization helped me narrow down the possibilities I was considering based on what I found the most fulfilling in an actual workplace environment. I had never expected to have much interest in communications and thought that the legal field was where I was headed, but once I experienced both, the opposite turned out to be true. I was given the opportunity to write an article for the summer edition of BJC’s magazine, and this ended up being one of the most rewarding experiences of the semester. Now that I am seeking employment and considering graduate school, I have a much clearer picture of the types of organizations that I want to contribute to, the daily work that I am interested in, and the projects that I am best equipped to take on.