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TMI Client With Cerebral Palsy Shines at Senator's Office

Updated: May 15, 2019

Ryan Frisella standing at podium

Hello, Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) Newsletter Readers! My name is Ryan Frisella. I have been a client of TMI since March. We have gone to job fairs at my alma mater San Diego State and the Job Coaches are attentive to my needs. TMI Division Manager Cathena Ferrero directed me toward an internship in El Cajon for State Senator Joel Anderson. I did not know what to expect since I had never had much office experience, but I was open to challenges so I accepted an interview invite. The interview was short and went well. The staff member Collin asked me traditional questions such as how to act with disruptive coworkers and who I would identify as my favorite historical or political figure. I couldn’t think of an answer quick so I just said two presidents that came to my head: FDR and Lincoln. I got the job and started the next Monday, May 16th.

From the first day I could tell this would be a challenging experience, but also a rewarding one where my input was valued. The first thing we were expected to do, in our completely formal dress attire at all times, is read the Capitol Basement Roundup, an online article about political happenings in California. From there, the internship coordinator Alex set me up with a certain staff member and they gave me projects to work on for the day. I have received everything from doing phone calls, thank you notes, making certificates, writing and media projects, and excel spreadsheets. Even the more tedious tasks have purpose in the office and are appreciated by the staff. I have enjoyed it thus far because of the wide variety of tasks and the comfortable feeling I get that the staff treats me like part of the team instead of an intern. My favorites have been any writing task. English and writing have always been one of my strengths, and I enjoy the creativity it allows me to release. I also have enjoyed creating certificates for well-deserving people in the community. During this internship, I have been part of many award banquets, where I did public speaking. Writing the certificates makes me excited for the recipients and their accomplishments.

I would recommend this position for anyone looking for a good jump start to their career. The website says most of the interns are high school and college undergraduates or graduates, but I’m sure anyone can benefit from it. Anyone who is responsible, mature, self-motivated, and willing to learn is welcome. You’ll get to work in a team environment and understand the legislative process. Two sayings they have placed all over the office are “Constituents are not interruptions of our day, they are the purpose of our day!” And “Interns are the backbone of our internship” spoken by the senator. You will not need to know even the slightest bit about politics to be successful, and in my case they were willing to listen to any accommodations I felt I needed to make. You will need to work a minimum of 125 hours.

I look forward to having an opportunity to represent the senator and perhaps a chance to speak in front of people. One of the more challenging things I have done is craft a statement for him for a press release and create a briefing book that the senator needed in just a few hours before going to a meeting. Even if this internship is not your idea of work you would enjoy, I recommend that anyone read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Interns were required to read it and it is known as “The Book” in the office. The author was a college professor who taught classes on how to handle people, win friends, persuade people to your way of thinking, and create a successful home life. He maintained that success could be created through charm, appreciation, and personality. The book can help anyone get through a negative mental rut, increase your popularity, become a more entertaining conversationalist and many other helpful life tips. The book is filled with many interesting stories of Carnegie’s past students and many famous historical figures. They had gone through the same social issues we face today with our colleagues, and Carnegie teaches how simple fixes can be such a large difference in getting what you want. I highly recommend it.

I am still uncertain where this internship will take me. I am confident that I am where I need to be. With TMI continuing to mentor me and my vast volunteer experience, I believe Joel Anderson’s internship will be a great stepping stone that will help push me over the top to a career I want and a chance to live independently.


An estimated 1 in 6 people are born with a developmental disability. Just like you, they are born with hopes, dreams and the drive to contribute to society. Since 1981 Toward Maximum Independence (TMI) has transforming thousands of lives by providing assistance to children and adults with developmental disabilities, giving them the ability to realize their hopes and dreams.


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