Government officials and agencies, nonprofit and service agencies, and private companies employ legislative analysts to monitor and analyze the activities and new policies established by local, state and federal governments. Depending on their employers, they may focus on particular types of legislation, for instance focusing on education policy or gay rights, or their work may be more broad-based, such as all legislation that affects state government. These professionals not only stay abreast of what is happening in government, but they provide summaries of the proposed or passed legislation, note how it affects their employer, and assist with constructing their employers’ response to the legislation.
In some cases, legislative analysts may be called upon to communicate their employers’ stance on legislative policy both internally and externally. Sometimes, organizations hire analysts on a freelance or consulting basis to work on a specific project or issue.
Our alumna Karla Mayenbeer Cruz (2011) is a Legislative and Policy Assistant and tells us about her job.
I am the Legislative and Policy Assistant for The Mason Tenders District Council Labor Management Fund. We represent 12,000 union members and its 1,500 signatory contractors. Our department focuses on expanding market share through the political process. We work closely with elected officials to support and create legislation that will bring strong labor and safety standards to construction projects in NYC and Long Island.
What is the broader field of industry in which this work exists?
Unionized construction industry
What, in general, do you do as part of this job?
- Establish relationships with elected officials and their offices.
- Track legislation in order to create memos of support or memos in opposition to be sent to elected officials, and other industry partners.
- Lobby the NYS legislature and the NYC City Council
- Work on campaigns
- Create messaging for identified audience
- Track new construction projects
What are the pros and cons of this kind of job?
PROS: The job is rewarding. We get involved in many issues that help our communities. We look to put people to work and we are working hard to diversify the trades allowing more people from our communities to have a middle-class career. We fight hard to keep the middle-class alive and to create good-paying jobs with benefits and security.
CONS: Long hours, stress is high, pressure is high, and expectations are high. Have to have a thick skin and can’t take things personally.
What skills did you learn as an English major that you use in this job?
Strong and clear writing is essential for this job. Everything I learned in my English courses I now use on a daily basis. There are always reports that need to be typed-up, memos and testimonies that need to be drafted, along with all other sorts of written communication.
I am writing daily and daily using what my professors taught me.
Reading and comprehension is also a major part of my job, and again, many courses worked on sharpening this skill.
How have you learned to do this job?
Though I have been fortunate to have mentors, a lot of it was self-taught. Graduating with strong reading and writing skills allowed me to be able to pick up a book or read an article online on a subject I wanted to know more information about and be able to comprehend the context.
How did you get this job?
I did an internship through John Jay where I was able to network.
For current students interested in this line of work, do you have any recommendations on what they can do now to start directing their career path?
It is important to meet people in the industry you want to work in. Internships are a great way to meet people, and see what it is like to do the type of work you are interested in.