Joshua A.

January 7th – January 14th (14.31 hours) –  On January 8th, we had a Mayor and Council Study Session. I helped “study” the study session agenda and regular session agenda for the Council member. I submitted questions and attended the meeting. This was an eye opening experience about how to really dig into details. As my coworker Mark Kerr (the Chief of Staff) says, “the devil is in the details” . This means that we drill down deeper into the material and tear any inconsistencies apart.

I learned how to answer phones, taking a message, transferring calls, and other basic phone skills. I developed this skill through practice as we get a lot of phone calls from constituents, and there is often a need to take a message as the aide in charge of that topic is gone, transfer the call to that aide, or sometimes just put them on hold for a minute to quickly give them the information directly. I found the phone system was surprisingly fairly intuitive. My mentor helped quite a bit in learning the ropes, especially when I first started answering phones.

As a future politician, I will be liable to my constituents. When myself or my office receives a call, then I will be able to not be like many of the older generations of politicians. I will be able to quickly and effectively use my phone system, email, etc. This will help complete and round out my resume to include more soft skills. An important part of office work is communication. Email, letters, one-on-ones, presentations, and phone calls are all essential to a successful business or government office.

It was a long time ago that I first learned the word constituent. I learned this word while I was still working for Ann Kirkpatrick’s Campaign for Congress. Constituent refers to someone in the jurisdiction of an elected official that represents that district of voters.

January 15th – January 28th (25.3 hours) –  On the 23rd, I was able to attend another Mayor and Council meeting. I’m starting to understand the vernacular used, the processes, etc. During this particular meeting, especially during the state legislative overview, I understood what was going on. The bills, names of Senators and Representatives -I was able to keep up. It felt amazing to be able to do that. I am now keeping track of the legislature for the council member, keeping tabs on bills and other nuances of the legislature.

A bill is a legal document which amends, repeals, or adds to the Arizona Revised Statues, or Arizona Constitution. Bills are the method of which that progress is made. I ‘learned’ this while talking about the various legislative events occuring, with the council member.

January 29th – February 11th (31.99 hours) – The last two weeks, I was able to start researching some more materials. At the current moment, even though I am paid, I am still essentially just an intern. I want to position myself to be a more regular, long term employee for the City of Tucson. Part of that is to begin to understand how the City of Tucson works. Even though this wasn’t necessarily directly part of my internship, I printed up some documents that were sent to my work email such as the City of Tucson Annual Water Conservation Program Report for Fiscal Year 2017-2018. I also printed a training on how Liquor Licenses are distributed and given in the City of Tucson. Being able to learn more about how these things work are going to allow me to remain a sustainable part of the City of Tucson, which I am looking forward to.

The first of my SMART goals was to experiment with two to four digital organizers to find one that worked the best for my needs. I had to think: “What is the purpose of a digital calendar for myself? Why am I using one digital, one paper, and another on a whiteboard? How am I going to consolidate the system I am currently using?” I chose this goal because my system, really three different systems, was not working. Some of my responsibilities, some of my assignments, and parts of my life were falling through the cracks.

I scoured the internet in search of a program or process I could implement and use in my daily life to bring order to where once was chaos. I started just by using the default calendar on my iPhone. While this was ‘effective’, it did mean that anytime I wanted to check my calendar when I was going through emails meant I needed to have my phone right out in front of me, easily accessible, and somehow not become a distraction and take me away from the task at hand. I used this digital calendar for a couple months, before I decided I would explore Google Calendar. I had already used Google Calendar in the past strictly for school club meetings, but because of the ease in sharing Google Calendars to the rest of my family, easy accessibility on all my devices, and having a fairly intuitive User Interface (or UI), I have been using Google Calendar constantly since.

My phone is synced to my Google Calendar, allowing quick and easy access to my schedule. I’m also able to input addresses and use Google Assistant to quickly and efficiently direct me to my destination without going through a maze of apps. My computer is synced to the same Google calendar, and this allows me to easily switch from emailing a legislator or community member, back to a calendar, and back to the email without getting distracted by social media. In addition, since it is on a computer, I am now able to be on a phone call with someone and schedule a meeting with them without going through the whole awkward “Hold on a minute….lemme see…I know it’s around here somewhere” that a paper calendar or digital calendar on one device would create. These amazing benefits for my future were surprisingly easy to come by. I didn’t expect it to take such a short period of time to find the system that I would enjoy using, and actually use.

Luckily, I didn’t encounter any hurdles in my efforts to streamline and simplify my life and schedule. I was surprised at how much of a difference a calendar system that connects all of my devices together could make in my day to day life. In a high stress life, where I am constantly trying to keep track of dozens of bills for three different organizations (City of Tucson, March For Our Lives Arizona, and the Metropolitan Education Commissions Youth Advisory Council), traveling all over the state of Arizona to meet with legislators to protect the interests of all three organizations, and meeting with local community advocates across Tucson for better services for all. Having a synced calendar between all my devices is going to incredibly helpful in ensuring that my work is sustainable, and to help me avoid burnout.

I learned about an ordinance when I was reading through the Water Conservation Program Report. The City of Tucson has a Water Wast Ordinance (27-15) Commercial Rainwater Harvesting Ordinance (10597), and more just relating to water. An ordinance is slightly different from legislation, in that it is specific to towns, cities, and counties (usually).

February 12th – February 25th (20.64 hours) – Nothing particularly incredible has happened in the last two weeks. However, this Friday there is a really special event I am going to as part of my internship. This Friday there is the State of the City, a luncheon event at the Tucson Convention Center which I am able to go to. During this event, Mayor Rothschild (whom I interned for a few weeks last summer) will share his legislative goals for the city council to hopefully adopt. This is a really exciting event, considering that I will be able to start this next year fully up to date with new projects that the City has. I hope that I’m going to be able to learn even more about how a local municipality like Tucson functions by going to this event.

Utilities are public services provided by a local municipality. Water and electricity are the most common forms of utilities. I learned this in reference to the Primavera Foundation announcing gas utility assistance, and with a large portion of my job being constituent services, I needed to know this.

February 26th – March 11th (25.2 hours) – I’ve been able to take on a set of meetings as ‘my own’, representing Ward 5! I’ll be a liaison between the Ward 5 Office and Big Jump (Westside and Southside of Tucson) from now on, attending Big Jump and related meetings. This came about because of a grant project Big Jump is being considered for, called Final Mile. This grant apparently would provide money to spread awareness that the City is installing new pedestrian facilities. I am very excited to learn more about pedestrian safety and infrastructure more. I can see how city planning might be something that I would be interested in the future.

The second SMART goal I had was to have a better work-life balance to better alleviate stress, and to set up personal boundaries in general. I first had to ask myself the question, “Why do I even want to have a work-life balance? I thought work was my life?”. I chose this goal because, after a thorough self examination of my current work-life balance, I determined that the balance was completely askew and required correction. The stress of everything keeps building because of my lack of a work-life balance. I’m always connected, forcing me to bring work to my ‘time off’. Previously I had tried to stop myself from acting on any new emails or updates from 9 PM to 9 AM. That proved to be quite unsuccessful. My life feel like Atlas, holding the world on my shoulders, trying desperately to get out from this compromising position but stuck in place because I’m in too deep and too committed to the cause. I started off trying to find ways which I could force myself to not have phone service, or not have my phone entirely. An example of this is to keep my phone in my car when I go out with friends. This forces me to not have my phone, minimizing many of the dangers surrounding having a phone around people in person, eliminating the ability to check my email or browse social media, immediately replying to text messages, or picking up phone calls. These sound like bad things, but considering I am by and large doing all of these activities on a daily basis throughout the entire day, taking a few hours off whenever I am with my friends seems like a fair trade off for my sanity. I have been able to implement this specific part my plan relatively easily, which has helped me at least when I am with friends. The benefits of this have been huge, helping me to be more present and less work focused when I am with my friends. Outside of that though, I haven’t been able to really find any methods for a better work-life balance when I’m elsewhere, like school or at home. I still get incredibly easily distracted by the going on’s of the world, what’s happening, especially in my issue areas. Sometimes I’ll even watch the legislature during my classes. I’m going to continue to work on this SMART goal though, as I think having an appropriate work-life balance is critical for anyone in this day and age. Having the stress of always have 10 things to do with 10 different organizations compounds on itself. Having blocked times when I am only working on this one project, this one assignment, or so forth is going to be critical to my success in the future. Silencing my phone I think is a good way to start, whenever I am at work or school. Another method might be to physically delete gmail and other communication apps from my phone so the notifications and accessibility aren’t quite so close in reach. Rest assured though, I will continue to work on this SMART goal beyond the Vail Internship Program.

Southside of Tucson. Many times, in the area of Tucson below I-10, people will call that South Tucson. I recently learned that is actually a misnomer. Apparently people in that area stress that the region is called the Southside of Tucson, because South Tucson is actually a separate city from Tucson.

March 12th – March 25th (28.3 hours) – I haven’t had any experiences in the last couple weeks which have been too out of the norm. As I continue working, it seems like I’m getting into this middle ground between every day is super high paced and energetic, or super slow and sluggish. The only thing that stands out would be my work on researching the effectiveness of our pedestrian safety plans. I had to fully research what the City of Tucson and Pima County are currently doing, where we are implementing these safety measures, and where pedestrian accidents and fatalities are occuring. I had to corroborate news articles, government GIS data, and statistics from the Tucson Department of Transportation in order to effectively understand how we have been trying to address pedestrian related accidents. This was a pretty intensive project, and I feel like I would not have been able to complete it if I was in school at the time. I feel like I have learned better and more proper ways of researching and analyzing information in a way that I haven’t really done before.

Geographic Information System, or GIS, is a system used to collect data and place it on a map. It is used in order to make vast collections of data more accessible and readable. I learned about it first from my dad, who does GIS as his job, and then I worked with GIS maps on my project researching our pedestrian safety plans.

March 26th – April 8th (23.7 hours) – During these last two weeks, nothing of particular note happened. However, a few weeks ago I was able to attend the LULAC Banquet with the Ward 5 Office. This is an organization which advocates for the Latino community. It was a great experience helping organize some of my teachers and peers to go to this banquet as well. That process of organizing some RSVP’s last minute was somewhat eyeopening. It made me realize that I actually sort of like conference/banquet planning, and might be a career path I could look into in the future.

First, I realized through this internship program that online classes are not going to work well with me. Having that in person, physical reminder that I have a class and obligations is really important to my own path to success. The ‘working from home’ model would also probably not work well for me.

Second, I also realized that I have a lot more potential than I thought. I’ve worked a lot of hours through this program, and it’s allowed me to even get a job in the career field that I am interested in. The experiences I have had through this program have been invaluable, and have made me grow significantly as a person.

1. Be organized. There are so many things that are happening in Senior year, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. The daily reminder in school that you are taking the Vail Internship Program doesn’t really happen the same way your other classes do, and this let’s you slip on your responsibilities.

2. Work hard. There are so many opportunties, you just need to work hard to seize them. If you work really hard in an internship, making it a part time job, then eventually you will be compensated as it is a part time job.

3. Don’t give up. With so many things going on, it is easy to fall into the Senioritis trap. Don’t give in to that feeling, because when everything catches back up to you it’s difficult to get out.

LULAC stands for the League of United Latino American Citizens. This term was used in context of the for-mentioned banquet I attended, as well as some of the previous work that the Council member has done. This is a national organization that is split up into local organizing through chapters.

April 9th – April 22nd (25.6 hours) – On April 16th, I had the opportunity to represent the Ward 5 Office at a Final Mile Meeting. Final Mile is the name of a grant which Tucson, specifically the West and Southside, is being considered for to improve our pedestrian facilities. This grant wouldn’t be able to go specifically towards construction, but could be used for everything else such as awareness and education for the community. During this meeting, we were trying to determine why we were asking for money from Final Mile considering the projects we would work on are already underway. It was really awesome that I was able to represent the Ward Office in this capacity, and to bring my own life experiences around transportation to the table. This also made me realize that I need to learn how to better report out on the meeting to my coworkers, and to ask more questions.

Pedestrian is a term for anyone using road facilities not in a vehicle using the primary space of the roadway. This term has been used in context of my recent meetings and research about pedestrian safety and programs. Tucson’s current pedestrian network is designed for North/South travel, to bring people into downtown Tucson.

July 20th – August 13th (38.38 hours) – Recently, while canvassing for Ann Kirkpatrick, I met an individual who informed me that he was not planning on voting in the Primary election. He stated that he would only vote in Presidential elections. This news concerned me, as the Primary election is as important, if not more important as the General and Presidential elections. The Primary election determines what kind of candidates continue to the General election, and if only the extremists on either side of the aisle vote, then we will have terrible, partisan, and divisive candidates when the General election rolls around. I tried to explain all of this to this individual, but he closed the door on me (literally). This was highly frustrating for me, but led me to realize that this is exactly the sorts of experiences I need right now in life. These experiences are what will help me shape the platform for my own political ventures, and these experiences and stories are invaluable in that regard.

I want to learn more soft skills, the people skills if you will. I need to continue to hone my communication-related soft skills I hope to ever run for public office. Between Mrs. Wahl/Polivchak and I, I hope I will be able to increase my ability to send comprehensive and detailed emails without the massive paragraphs. Between my (current) mentor and I, I hope to learn how to remember faces and names better. This is a vital skill I will need in my future, and it all starts now. When I run for office, I want to be that kind of candidate, the super try hard, people person kind of candidate, that everyone has heard of.

I have learned how to balance my calendar, as a professional. My calendar of events is absolutely insane, and I love it. But if I didn’t do a good job of maintaining my calendar then I would have many scheduling issues and my life would become very stressful. I know. My life used to be like that. As a student, I have learned how I find time for homework in between the meetings, internships, work, forums, and a whole host of other events. Surprisingly, I am actually maintaining the work load very well!

August 14th – August 27th (21.45 hours) – During my hours the last couple weeks, I have been starting to realize that maintaining these hours for a physically intensive internship is difficult. Actually, since halfway through last week, I actually got sick and it made it extremely difficult to maintain my hours and maintain my other responsibilities. Honestly, when I get sick, it usually drains my energy levels to a point that motivation to do anything is very difficult. This scares me. I thrive on accomplishing tasks, creating events, and networking; I can’t do that if I am sick and barely able to think, move, or function at the same level I was previously. Not being able to do the things I love, is truly and utterly horrifying to me. I will be taking a lesson from this, making sure that I a) do not overcommit myself, b) take plenty of Vitamin C pills, and c) work as hard as I can to build stable enough business relations with others to ensure that if I get sick it is not the end of the world.

August 28th – September 10th (28.64 hours) – The last week at the Metropolitan Education Commission has been the best week of any internship I have had so far. Hands down. The environment is warm and welcoming, the staff are incredible, and perhaps most importantly: they already know what I am capable of doing, so I am able to just jump in and start on projects. Until October 9th, my internship project will be to collaborate with Karla Avalos, Senior Aide to the Mayor, Mi Familia Vota, March For Our Lives, the League of Women Voter’s, and Metropolitan Education Commission to conduct Voter Registration (VR) drives all over the Tucson – Pima County area. This specific project just feels incredibly special to me, because it is the first major project of my life, with many more to come! I am incredibly excited for this project, and especially the first week of Fall Break! Most schools are still in session then, which means for that entire week I will be working so much on this project, as well as recruiting for the Youth Advisory Council.

At the Metropolitan Education Commission, it seems like the conduct is pretty simple: just work as much as you can, but don’t overwork yourself. Personality wise, there are only 4 full-time staff members, and 2 other part-time interns other than myself. This means that the entire group, the entire organization, feels very close to each other. The environment and atmosphere really reflect this aspect of the MEC. We all joke around, work together, feeling free to ask another for help, eating together, etc. In fact, yesterday (Thursday the 6th) when I arrived everyone was having a potluck in the conference room! So to kind of reiterate and rephrase my previous statement: work hard, then play hard. The times that I have spent with my coworkers has been phenomenal, both during “work” time and “play” time.

This is a natural fit! Granted, I have worked in a couple of professional environments. However, more often than not my problem is getting loose around people! Luckily I am having much luck in that regard, and I am more an extrovert than I used to be. I can loosen up enough to joke around and have a good time in the work place. That is an aspect which I have known for a while that I need to work on. This stemmed from my job at El Coronado, where I acted “professional” but primarily because I never got a chance to really talk to someone because I was so focused on (then) washing dishes. I am happy to say that I have made enough progress in “loosen up” in my professional work.

I didn’t learn a new vocabulary word during any of my internships so far, but instead I’ll talk about how I learned all the work that a City Commission needs to do! So every time that there is a meeting, executive or otherwise, and there is at least a quorum present, the agenda and minutes are required on very strict time limits. The agenda must be given to the City and County I believe 5 days before the meeting. The unapproved minutes must be posted within 48 hours, and the approved minutes very soon after that.

September 11th – September 24th (34.7 hours) – The 7th Annual Youth and Peace Conference was one of the most exciting, new, and invigorating experiences I have had in recent memory. I have been working on it for a few months as a representative of the Metropolitan Education Commission and Youth Advisory Council, and this last Friday all the hard work finally came to fruition. I MC’d several parts of the conference, and it taught me so much about organizing, management, and collaboration. In addition to this, because of my efforts in voter registration at both Empire and Cienega, I am giving a speech during the Mayor’s press conference tomorrow!! Being invited to give speeches at events has been a goal of mine for the next year that I wasn’t anticipating being done for several more months -but fortunately it’s already happening! All in all, the last two weeks have been some of the most stressful but most successful days of my life so far.

A bond is a special type of proposition (in Vail it is Proposition 468) which slightly increases taxes in order to pay for capital expenses in public education. Capital expenses are things like buses and new school facilities. Overrides are a different method of supplying monies to public education, but instead go towards paying for teacher pay.

September 25th – October 8th (67.47 hours) – After a presentation of my confidential project to the Vice Mayor, I was tasked with a new assignment that will likely last the rest of my time there. Strategizing, organizing, and executing a change in public perception and policy about prisoners reentering society. The tasks that I have are honestly quite exciting, and I am extremely eager and ready to get into it. In addition, I was one of three Youth Advisory Council members that gave a speech during the Mayor’s press conference on National Voter Registration Day about the importance of voter registration. As my first foray into the public realm, I was really nervous leading up to it. Afterwards, however, it left me craving to do more; it’s cyclical, constantly spiraling in connections and organizations, constantly finding similarities in my work, and so on. I think that these internships are truly providing me with the most accessible and best possible future in politics.

Email is the most used method of communication within my internship sites. Email is used by the City and County, and as a commission of the City the Metropolitan Education Commission and as an intern for Tucson Ward 5 I am constantly using email. This method of communication is the most effective for a few reasons. First, there are typically attachments and large attachments sent through email which would not be able to be sent through text, in person, etc. Second, email creates a chronicle of conversations, meaning that it is extremely accessible to view previous conversations and find previous documents. Lastly, third, email is easy to use, attach documents, CC others, and other nifty functions that allow for the most efficient use of time to communicate with others.

I am extremely comfortable using email, and using email to communicate with my internship sites. I have a process for sending emails: first, I have to know what I am talking about specifically -I must avoid having too many topics in one single email. Second, I write out the email as a draft. Third, I revise any mistakes I see or separate out ideas and other formatting. Fourth, after a few days with no response I will follow up with a phone call in order to make sure that my email is read and to get a response. I don’t necessarily initiate communication as soon as I have a thought, but I am in frequent communication with my internship sites.

I learned the term municipal ID when I was receiving my next assignment from the Vice Mayor, Councilmember Fimbres. A municipal ID refers to having a local level identification card, instead of using a State issued card. A municipal ID has the target and goal to be used specifically by those reentering into society, to give them another form of ID other than a felon card.

October 9th – October 22nd (25.85 hours) – Today, I will officially start on City of Tucson payroll as a paid intern at the Ward 5! I am extremely grateful and excited for this brand new opportunity. This will allow me to get even more hours (20 a week), get paid above minimum wage, and I’ll get a badge and city email! I will now be able to focus more on my true work, organizing events and getting involved in local government. It was sad to leave my internship at the Metropolitan Education Commission, but I am grateful for the experiences I have had there. Ward 5 will offer me new opportunities that I am eager to get started with.

Reentry. This refers to ex-convicts reentering into society immediately after leaving the prison system. I learned the term ‘reentry’ during a criminal justice system town hall. Reentry also supports my main Ward 5 project, which is a project aimed at assisting reentry’s.

October 23rd – November 5th (9.76 hours) – These two weeks were a whirlwind. Literally everything happened at once, and my time management was completely shot as I struggled to maintain all of my responsibilities, with several being dropped all together. On the 22nd, I spent most of the work day getting my paperwork signed and documented with the City Clerk’s Office to become a paid intern for Ward 5. Since then, I am no longer working at El Coronado as a dishwasher and cook. This has been a Godsend for this time as Mock Trial, Elections, and school all ramped up even more than I was anticipating. I have fully caught up with all of my responsibilities again, however, and I am working full steam ahead.

I initiated communication with the City of Richmond, CA about two months ago. I emailed and followed up with phone calls. I was in communication with them because of my project in creating a municipal ID program in Tucson, and I am using the City of Richmond as a template and success story. There were two specific times that I communicated with their office, the first was in search of documents relating to the creation and ‘set up’ of the municipal ID program in Richmond. The second time I communicated with the office was to find any data or other metrics determining the success of the Richmond municipal ID. In addition, I was also looking for user demographics, total user population, and other general user information.

Somewhat frequently, I talk with some of my coworkers about how our day is going, plans for the holidays, and so on. One specific time was talking to Mary Kuchar, the Executive Assistant at the Ward 5 Council Office, about Thanksgiving plans. I was pretty comfortable with this interaction, as I’ve been at Ward 5 for a few months now. In addition, I have been talking with Mary most days that I come in and she is at her desk. The Council Office is fairly open, so she and another coworker are in the same open area as I am. I regularly interact with all of my coworkers however, from my Mentor (Lupita), Mark Kerr (Chief of Staff), and Councilmember (Richard Fimbres).

Provisional ballot. A provisional ballot in Arizona is essentially a ballot that allows you to vote, regardless of proper ID or voter registration. The ballot is manually checked to match a voter registration. I learned this shortly before working at the polls, from Mary.

November 6th – November 19th (20.3 hours) – In the last four weeks, I really screwed up. As this year has progressed, I have constantly and consistently grown more involved in a variety of organizations, causes, and campaigns, offering time and money to them. Most of these culminated with the midterm election, and my lack of ability to say “no” to more commitments really got me in trouble late October and early November. I feel incredibly stupid for these blunders, and I will definitely be staying away from joining any new organizations or forming new commitments until the end of the school year at least. While I was enjoying what I was doing, I wasn’t able to give each commitment ‘my all’, so to speak. Slowly, little details (and eventually big details) started slipping through the cracks, and eventually pouring through the cracks. The past four weeks have been a learning experience which I am glad is over, and I will continue to grow from it in learning to simply say “no”.

As you know, I have bounced internships around a few times before settling on the Ward 5 Council Office. In each case, for the most part, I made a schedule and I stuck with that schedule. I believe that each employer would say for the most part, I did. I gave notice ahead of time that I would run late or be unable to come in on my scheduled day. Once again however, the past few weeks have been brutal on my schedule. I have missed 7 days of school in the last four weeks, and most of those were trips that went past my scheduled time, or a couple of times up to midnight. A lack of planning on my part led to this craziness, where I would sign up for field trips and not realize I already had two or three that week.

I did not manage my time nearly as well as I would have liked. I still maintained the status quo with my internship. I was barely able to keep up with my extra curricular in and out of school. I was unable to keep up with my homework at all, however. All of my time was spent organizing, researching, drafting bills, going to events, and so on because that was the responsibilities that I had committed to. That was most definitely a mistake. I have already begun work on furthering my time management, by focusing on three specific organizations instead of 8. My internship with the Ward 5 Council Office, the Metropolitan Education Commission and Youth Advisory Council, and March For Our Lives Arizona are the main three that I will focus on.

Bravo Camp. Bravo Camp is in reference to a homeless camp in the northern part of Ward 5. It is predominantly homeless veterans. It is being shut down due to vigilantism going on in the area, and there has been a media frenzy at the office because of it.