MINEOLA, N.Y. - While many internships programs were canceled altogether this summer, others got creative by taking to the computer. A virtual politics camp for middle school through college students led by Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan is said to be a first of its kind internship—the six-week program is done entirely by Zoom videoconference.
"This is a full day to give kids the opportunity to learn about politics and give them a chance to speak up," he said.
Speaking up is how Lafazan landed his position as one of the youngest legislators in New York and now he is inspiring kids of Gen Z to do the same.
"If you're committed to working hard, committed to doing research and your parents are OK with it, no one will be too young for the program," Lafazan said.
The program runs from Monday through Wednesday, from 1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. each day. The interns have responsibilities including preparing speeches to work on public speaking skills. Each day, invited guests ranging from young entrepreneurs to the Nassau County executive Zoom in.
What did the kids get out of the program? Community service hours and a recommendation letter for college but they tell you it's a lot more than that.
Kimani Panthier is an incoming freshman at Harvard University.
"When I found out about the program, I had to be a part of it," he said. "We're not able to physically be together but I still wanted to do something I'm passionate about."
Julia Zheng will be a high school junior in the fall.
"I think this is a great way to learn," she said. "We can communicate online."
Chase Serota, a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania, is the director of the program.
"Young people are so passionate about getting involved in politics, it doesn't matter if it's virtually or in person," Serota said.
And despite the coronavirus pandemic, the program has grown from 75 interns last year to over 125 this summer, adapting with the times and giving these kids the hope that they change their communities.
"These kids finding their voice and they're using it to make a difference makes me proud," Lafazan said.