When looking for an internship for his senior year, communication and social influence (CSI) student Ben Wilcox (he/him) needed to look no further than one of the busiest blocks in Philadelphia: City Hall. For over a century, the building has been home to all legislative processes and politicians in Philadelphia, and now Wilcox is a part of the daily happenings as a communications intern for City Council Member At Large Isaiah Thomas.
“So far, it’s been a great experience,” Wilcox said. “One of the best opportunities of my life.”
After Assistant Professor of Instruction Guillermo Caliendo introduced Wilcox to Thomas’s communication director Max Weisman, KLN ’14 (he/him), Wilcox interviewed for his internship and went into the office at City Hall for the first time on October 5, 2022. He is set to continue the internship through May 2023 when he will graduate from Temple University.
Wilcox took advantage of Klein College of Media and Communication Career Services after his first interview and is grateful for the support of Director of Career Services Lu Ann Cahn and Vice Dean for Student Success Maggie Lewis.
“He’s really good at going and hitting the ground running,” Weisman said. He is thrilled to be working with a fellow Temple Owl and is always impressed by Wilcox’s ability to integrate what he is learning in classes with his tasks in the office.
As a communications intern, Wilcox assists Thomas, who is the chair of the Streets and Services Committee and Education Committee, by keeping an eye out for emails from other council members. He also sits in on council meetings in order to serve as a liaison between Thomas and constituents or press. Often, Wilcox is the one providing the press materials from committee meetings and council sessions.
Since starting in October 2022, Wilcox has grown in his role and is getting to exercise many communication and media skills across all the projects he works on. He compiles and clips videos for Thomas’ YouTube page, creates graphics for websites that provide information on proposed legislation, and writes resolutions to honor a Philadelphian who has shown leadership and ingenuity.
Each week, Wilcox writes a congratulatory resolution and communicates with the honorees before and while they attend that week’s council meeting to receive their honor. Wilcox is proud to have words that he has written be recorded as resolutions in our city’s code.
Due to Thomas’ work with the Education Committee, Wilcox has had the opportunity to work with school communities and students through initiatives such as Get out the vote, when he walked around the city with high school students on election day to encourage people to go the polls. Most recently, Wilcox has served as the main point of contact in Thomas’ office for inquiries about the Temple University Graduate Student Association strike. This, he said, has been some of his best and proudest work.
“I can’t really think of two things that I care about more in cities than general day to day quality of life issues and public education,” Wilcox said. Working for the chair of Streets and Services Committee that passes infrastructure legislation, as well as the Education Committee, has given Wilcox plenty of opportunities to explore ways to use communication to make changes in his community.
Wilcox is a proud member of Student Activists Against Sexual Assault and serves as the club’s communication chair. After designing a new logo and flyers to relaunch the club, Wilcox and other members have held several events on campus and are working with other organizations on campus to provide resources and education to students.
In addition to his internship and clubs, Wilcox has also explored his interest in public quality of life in his classes. With Caliendo, Wilcox did a deep dive into litter in Philadelphia and wrote a communication action plan to help clean up the streets. He hopes that his experience researching the topic will better inform his work with Thomas on the Streets and Services Committee and his future work in the community.
“Ben’s a fabulous student and is wonderful to have in class. He comes out as a class leader,” said Associate Professor Bruce Hardy (he/him). Hardy taught Wilcox at the very beginning of his time at Temple and has seen him consistently achieve at a high level.
Wilcox is thrilled to be working for a trailblazing office like Thomas’ and is eager to find new opportunities to use his communication skills to help the community.