Amy Williamson, ‘20, found her passion for public service after interning with local government organizations
Driven by her belief that “whenever someone is put in your path, you are there to help them,” New Jersey native, Amy Williamson, purposefully sought opportunities to put herself in others’ paths. Throughout her time at Binghamton University, she held six internships, spanning from on-campus organizations to off-campus government positions and plans to continue making an impact in the Greater Binghamton Area post-graduation.
Williamson, a senior double-majoring in History and Philosophy, Politics and Law, with a minor in Spanish, originally planned on pursuing law school after graduation. However, after experiencing first-hand the positive effect she could have on peoples’ lives through public service, she found her true passion.
One life-changing experience was her workforce development internship at Broome Tioga Workforce. There, she helped people overcome barriers to employment, by creating a Career Pathways program for adults in two major industries- healthcare and warehousing. Williamson gained a better understanding about barriers that impede individuals from accessing employment, such as child care, education, and healthcare.
“These barriers are very real, and this experience helped me realize success is about increasing access, helping people and small victories,” Williamson said. “I’ve always believed that every job has dignity and it’s just about helping people get there. The internship showed me I could contribute to a structural plan -- like workforce development -- that could create access for everyone.”
Williamson now interns with The Agency, Broome County’s Industrial Development Agency, and has enjoyed every moment. The Agency provides economic development assistance through workforce development programs as well as property tax abatement programs for large financial projects. She is currently working on a K-20 career pathways program to provide the workforce with more industry-specific training programs and career pathways. Williamson’s eventual goal is to earn both an MPA and MBA and work for the federal government in the Department of Labor, which helps offices across the country develop programs to assist job seekers. Williamson believes making an impact at a larger scale and “helping job seekers in local areas across the country is one of the most important things for us to do.”
Williamson credits her internships with providing valuable skills that she will carry into her future. “My internships taught me how to think more critically and how to handle myself in conversations, especially as I meet important community members,” Williamson said. “These experiences taught me what to expect when I graduate, which is important because it gave me an understanding of the direction I want my career to take. Internships work really well in tandem with the academic course load at Binghamton University because they take the classroom experience to the next level, which is critical for one's professional and career development.”
To begin addressing a lack of diversity in public service careers Williamson also immersed herself in leading the chartering process to secure Student Association recognition for Leading Women of Tomorrow, a bipartisan student-run organization whose overall mission is to promote women in public service, thereby bridging the gender gap among public representatives. “We want to encourage more women to consider those [government and public service] career paths,” Williamson said. “As more women take on these jobs, the gender gap will disappear.”
Not only does Williamson want to see more women in office, but she wants to see more diversity in government positions. “I think diverse voices should be brought to the forefront. That is something that is lacking.”
Williamson wants to continue helping people get access and to improve the quality of life for others here in the Greater Binghamton area. “This is a community you can really make yours and learn a lot from. I fell in love with the area and the community itself and I fell in love with public service,” Williamson said. She wants to continue working toward eliminating barriers to employment, thereby improving the quality of life for others.