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For Indiana University senior Elise Ruff, an internship with Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard’s Department of Minority and Women in Business Development fits perfectly with her larger career goals. While two previous internship experiences created a solid foundation for her current position, Ruff says that spending her summer in Indianapolis has already proven to be incredibly valuable.

“I’ve had two internships previously, but this has been my first Monday through Friday, ‘nine to five’ type of job,” Ruff remarks. “I’ve been learning how to utilize co-workers’ specialties to help me get certain projects done and learning to ask for help when necessary. I’m very interested in getting into politics after law school, so I think having experience working in a political environment is very beneficial.”

The DMWBD ensures that Indianapolis city projects comply with diversity guidelines and gives minorities, women and veteran-owned businesses an equal opportunity to compete in Indianapolis’ economy. Ruff’s internship centers on helping her department kick off its workforce initiative to better connect the city’s businesses.

“Mayor Ballard is seeking to increase and improve our workforce in Indianapolis, so our department has created a committee to bridge the gap between the services offered, the businesses seeking to fill positions and the individuals looking for jobs,” she explains. “I’m somewhat of a middle man or a liaison between the companies on the initiative and our department.”

According to Ruff, the hands-on nature of her work is a significant motivator.

“I enjoy helping others and being able to get out in the community and make a difference,” she says. “Our department hosts monthly certification sessions to help Indianapolis businesses better understand our certification process. We help put on events about upcoming job opportunities.

“I enjoy the fact that every day brings a new task for me. Although I enjoy routines and structure, I always look forward to a new task. I enjoy the people I work with as well. They are all very intelligent individuals that come from different walks of life.”

Ruff notes that the sheer scope of options for political science majors necessitates internship experience. This applies to other majors too, as internships are key to finding likes and dislikes in the workplace.

“I think internships are definitely beneficial to students in my major. A political science major does not have a one-track path to a career. In fact, there are many options for these type of students. Because of this, I think it’s necessary – and even crucial – for political science students to have internships so they can network, find out what their interests are and even find out what would not work for them.”

Although she only recently began working for the DMWBD, Ruff says the surprises and challenges of each day keep her internship exciting and new.

“I wake up in the morning wanting to come to my internship and I think that speaks volumes about the internship program the city has.”