SPEA graduate student Sydnee Cseresznyes will soon have the opportunity to see the state legislature through a new lens. Cseresznyes was named the new HobNob intern for the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce on October 29. She’ll begin her new position in January and stay for the duration of the 2019 legislative session.
The internship is awarded annually to a SPEA IUPUI graduate student interested in public policy, political action, and advocacy. It includes a $5,000 stipend from Cripe Architects.
Andrew Bean knows the journey upon which Cseresznyes is embarking. He was awarded the same position in 2017.
“The HobNob internship helps you learn the dynamics of the statehouse atmosphere,” Bean recalls. “You learn what you need to do to make things happen and the very unique skill set that goes along with that.”
He says that skill set built upon the policy lessons he learned in the SPEA Master of Public Affairs program.
Prior to joining SPEA, Bean was pursing his law degree and working for the Marion County Public Defender Agency. He spent seven years there but knew it wasn’t his future.
“I just didn’t enjoy how I was using my degree in litigation,” he says. “Litigation is, by its nature, adversarial. That’s okay; that’s the way the system works. It just wasn’t for me.”.”
Yet he did like the advocacy portion of his work, and preferred coming up with creative and collaborative solutions instead.
So, Bean turned his attention to earning his MPA, focusing on Policy Analysis and Environmental Policy and Sustainability. Not only did he find the content more in line with his future goals, but he knew he wasn’t alone in his desire to make a difference.
“SPEA has a very particular energy that is unlike what you find in other programs” Bean says. “The students seem enthusiastic about what they’re doing. That’s very encouraging and creates an environment that empowers you with the skills and opportunities you need to effect change.”
As Bean progressed through the program, he knew he could use his law and policy degrees to combine his passion for advocacy. He just needed an internship to give him hands-on experience.
“That was the one hole in my resume,” he says. “I had worked in criminal law for so long that even with my education as an MPA student, I needed something that showed I had done work in policy.”
That’s when an email from SPEA caught his attention. The email provides students with a list of potential career, internship, and fellowship opportunities, including information on becoming a HobNob intern. Bean saw it as his chance to get the experience he needed.
After interviewing with leaders at the Chamber and receiving word he had been selected, Bean began his work as the 2018 legislative session got underway.
“Many of the Chamber’s policy goals were business-related, yet there were also progressive issues on their radar as well—things like bias crimes and smoking bans,” Bean says. “My job was to support the Chamber’s policy team in whatever ways would help them during the session.”
That included researching data on legislation and attending committee hearings to ensure those working for the Chamber had the information they needed to make decisions. But the experience took him beyond data and into the world of lobbying. It was a new experience for Bean, but he says he couldn’t have learned those person-to-person skills in the classroom.
“I like data but I like dealing with people, too,” he says. “This was a perfect intersection of my research and social sides. You learn to be an honest broker of data and information and to establish trust with people because your reputation is built upon those relationships. That’s true in policy work, but really in any field one may choose to pursue.”
As for Bean’s future pursuits, he says his HobNob experience helped shape his view of the role he wants to play in the world.
“I now see more clearly that working in policy is a way to help your community and to make a direct impact on your neighbors,” he says. “That’s what I want to focus on now.”