The Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program offers approximately 30 talented undergraduate students an opportunity to experience state government and the legislative process, through their participation in an on-site, academic enriching, and career building work experience. The Program runs about four months, beginning in early January and ending in late April.
The Program was designed for college juniors and seniors, though exceptional sophomores are occasionally selected. Freshmen are ineligible. Majors in all accredited disciplines are accepted and encouraged; pursuit of a degree in history or political science is neither a prerequisite nor an advantage to selection. However, academic initiative, an avid interest in learning, maturity, and a strong work ethic are all essential for success.
This program was created to foster an appreciative understanding of New York State’s legislative process, which includes, but is not limited to: the development of legislation and public policy; resolving constituent problems and concerns; the understated procedures and dynamics of legislative session; and problem solving in state government.
The New York State Senate offers undergraduate students an unparalleled opportunity to observe government in action and to learn how legislatures operate.
The Senate Application Deadline is Friday, October 30, 2015 (Applicants should check with their Campus Liaison Officer for their exact deadline date, as it may be earlier.) Announcement of Selections - Mid- November 2015.
The Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants Program offers approximately 30 undergraduate students an opportunity to experience state government and the legislative process through their participation in an on-site, academic enriching and career building work experience. Typically, 15 credit hours are awarded by most participating SUNY, CUNY, and independent colleges and universities, and students receive a $5,025 stipend.
The Applicant must be a United States Citizen, enrolled and matriculated in an accredited undergraduate degree program at a college or university located in New York State. The program is designed for college juniors and seniors, though exceptional sophomores may occasionally be selected. Freshmen are ineligible. Students must be enrolled full time in the previous spring and current fall semester/trimester, possess a 3.0 grade point average or better, and meet their college/university requirements for off-campus study. A student’s eligibility status must be certified by their Campus Liaison Officer, Academic Advisor, Chairman, Dean or other duly authorized campus personnel. Majors in all accredited disciplines are accepted; pursuit of a degree in history or political science is neither a prerequisite nor an advantage to selection. Academic achievement, personal initiative and an avid interest in learning, along with maturity and a strong work-ethic, are essential for success.
Campus Rules and Responsibilities
Each student applying for a Senate Assistantship must contact their Campus Liaison Officer, Academic Advisor, Chairman, Dean or other duly authorized campus personnel to determine: the requirements for off campus study; if they are eligible to participate in such a program; the amount of credit they may receive for such participation; and the identity of their on-campus evaluator.
The Senate does not and cannot award credit. To be eligible, each applicant must be able to earn campus-awarded credit for participation in the program. Advisement, evaluation, grading and granting of credit are the responsibility of on-campus faculty. Such faculty is responsible for academic planning, tracking, and evaluation of student participation based upon the Director of Senate Student Program’s confidential written evaluation of the student’s performance. Owing to the demands of the on-site program, the Senate imposes a limit of six (6) additional classroom credits pursued outside the program during enrollment.
How To Apply
Upon receipt of approval for off-campus study, the applicant must complete an application and submit it, along with required documents, to the CLO, who will remit the approved application to the Senate Student Programs Office. An application consists of the following:
- A completed Undergraduate Session Assistant Application Form;
- Official Transcripts of all collegiate work;
- A one-page resume;
- Three confidential letters of reference from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic abilities and professional aptitude;
- A listing of three (3) legislative policy area preferences;
- A six-eight (6-8) page paper or essay;
- Two one-page memoranda (a policy proposal and rebuttal);
- Personal Statement;
- Certification of current coursework; and
- Signed Student Statement.
To apply, complete the Undergraduate Session Assistants Program Application.
Senate Undergraduate Session Assistants are generally assigned to a Senator’s office and work full-time in these placements. Placements relate to the student’s experience, abilities and interests to the extent that these are compatible with Senate needs. Every attempt is made to provide Session Assistants with their policy preference or with a comparable placement. Specific work assignment responsibilities are assigned to each Session Assistant by their Placement Supervisor, and are reviewed by the Senate Student Programs Office. Such duties may include: short-term research; responding to constituent correspondence and other requests; tracking legislation; preparing bill memos; attending and reporting on committee meetings and public hearings; and attending meetings with lobbyists and other interest groups.
Stipend and Work Hours
The Senate awards a $5,025 stipend to offset the costs of moving to and living in Albany. The stipend is paid in biweekly installments and is subject to payroll lag and other current payroll guidelines, including taxation. The stipend will be prorated through the last day of each individual enrollment. Students are required to work a minimum of 35 hours per week, though longer hours are possible and should be expected.
Arranging for personal housing in Albany is the responsibility of the student. The Senate does not provide for and is not responsible for identifying suitable housing. Following acceptance into the Senate Session Assistants Program, students are encouraged to utilize resources such as Capital District local newspapers (e.g. Times Union, Troy Record, Daily Gazette), online sources (e.g. Craigslist and area classified ads), local academic institutions (e.g. SUNY at Albany, St. Rose), and public libraries.
Orientation and Program
Upon arrival, students participate in an orientation program that presents the rudiments of legislative purpose, procedure, and culture. All placements are arranged by the Office of Student Programs only. Weekly seminars introduce focused procedural topics and key participants, and may include reading/ writing/speaking assignments. A major paper may be expected. Model Legislative Session allows students to experience, firsthand, the lawmaking process, including drafting, negotiating, and debating/voting on original student legislation. Historically, it is the culminating program activity. Students must maintain frequent contact with their campus advisors throughout the program.