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From Campus to City Hall

Student learns local government through Evanston Civic Internship Program

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Abir Ahmed spent her final quarter of senior year at Northwestern as an intern in Evanston Alderman Peter Braithwaite’s office, working on an ordinance that gave her a new sense of the place she has called home for the last four years. 

The ordinance requires every construction project in the city to staff at least one Evanston resident for 50 percent of project hours.

 “Before researching this ordinance, I didn’t realize how many things the city does to engage Evanston residents,” said Ahmed, a senior in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “The government really cares about its residents, and I’ve seen their efforts to get a diverse group involved.”

Ahmed was placed in 2nd Ward Alderman Braithwaite’s office during spring quarter through Northwestern’s Evanston Civic Internship Program (ECIP).

ECIP, jointly offered by the University’s Center for Civic Engagement, Chicago Field Studies and the Center for Leadership, places undergraduate students in internships in various departments of the City of Evanston government and local non-profits.

The ordinance benefits construction companies as well as residents, Ahmed learned. “It’s easier for construction companies. They have an incentive to hire more residents.”

Ahmed first heard about ECIP while serving as a representative for off-campus students in the Associated Student Government. She got the great work experience she hoped for and an opportunity to engage with Evanston residents. 

She also got a case of the nerves in her preparation and presentation of the ordinance to the city council.

“I had to draft my research, and they sent it out so everyone had the information first,” Ahmed said. “Then I had to present it and field questions.”

The feedback was great, and she, in essence, ended up with a real world “A.” 

Ahmed will take the experience with her as she leaves Evanston. She received a Dunn Fellowship and will work in the legal department of the governor’s Chicago office for a year before heading to law school.

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