Paul Rodríguez ’06 has recently joined the Administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as Deputy Counsel to the Mayor. The Counsel’s office advises the Mayor on legal matters involving City Hall and City agencies, and also assists on policy and administrative matters. Rodríguez’s work in the Mayor’s Office focuses on criminal justice, economic development, labor, infrastructure and increasing the participation of women and minority-owned firms in government contracting.
Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Rodríguez worked at the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP where he worked on a wide variety of matters, including financing transactions, securities regulation and intellectual property.
Rodríguez, a political science major at a Montclair State, focused his time on his coursework and forging connections with his professors. “The classes are what I loved the most about my time at Montclair State,” says Rodríguez.
“I am so grateful for the support of my professors. My advice would be work closely with them and take your time in the classroom seriously.”
Rodríguez recalls two professors that made a profound impact on him during his time at Montclair State. Dr. Norma Connelly’s law class was the first class he took at Montclair State. “Dr. Connelly was incredibly caring and supportive of the pursuit of my legal career and her course on the legal responses to terrorism was one of my favorites at MSU.”
Rodríguez credits Dr. George Menake, who has since retired, for getting him his first job in politics through an internship with U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. This internship turned into a full-time position, where Rodríguez served as aide to the Senator for the next four years. In this role, he focused on transportation, infrastructure, labor and national security issues.
When asked what advice he would share with current students looking to pursue a career in politics, Rodríguez encourages students to seek internships. “Definitely get an internship,” says Rodríguez. “It gives you the best sense of what life in public service can be like.”
Many students think that an internship is temporary – to receive experience or college credits. Rodríguez recalls feeling that way too, but urges students to think long-term.
“I didn’t realize that my career could start with my internship,” says Rodríguez. “It’s a great opportunity to get experience, to make connections and to learn what you love (or hate) doing. Interns in political offices often have the most direct impact and contact with the people the office represents, and you have the opportunity to do real good.”