Out Into the Field: RNC Faculty Leader Perspective

Out Into the Field: RNC Faculty Leader Perspective

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version
Robert Alexander
September 19, 2012

The Impact of Faculty Leaders


The Campaign Seminar series can be a real challenge—not just for students, but for faculty as well.  There are a number of moving parts in such an environment and the job of the faculty member is to provide context, information, and mentorship to students.  I found that working to broaden and deepen student knowledge in a short period of time was made easier because of their strong commitment to soak in as much as they could during their experience.  Facilitating discussion around relevant readings and lectures from top-flight academicians was a delight.  While students were interested in the academic side of the seminar, the opportunity to get “out into the field” was what excited them most. Helping students understand and manage expectations was an important part of my job. By stressing the importance of being flexible, professional, and eager to assist, I hoped to provide students with advice that would serve them well not only during the seminar, but throughout their professional life.


Differences Witnessed


Students certainly come in with expectations.  In some instances, their expectations match up with what unfolds.  In other instances, students find things out about themselves that they never could have imagined.  In fact, I’m confident that many students will not truly appreciate or understand the wealth of experiences they have had until they have some distance from the program.  For some, this means days.  For others, it may mean years.  I have found that students get caught up in many of the events happening around them and seldom have the time to look around and realize the type of access to world leaders and opinion makers that they have been exposed to. The frenzied pace of the program makes it difficult to reflect at that time. However, once students are out of the “bubble,” they begin to recognize what exclusive company they kept as well as the rich experiences they undertook.  Yet, rather than bask in the awe of the occasion, students begin to set new goals for themselves.  They realize that they can be among those they recently came into contact with. For my students in the 2008 Convention program, this soon became the case.  At least one of my students was hired in a full-time position and several others procured long-term internships as a result of their experiences.  I expect similar outcomes will occur as a result of the 2012 Convention program.


Lastly, so many additional benefits accrue to students that were not directly associated with the program.  Perhaps most significant is the amount of media coverage they had.  A number of my students were the focus of multiple stories in newspapers and were the subject of several television interviews.  They have also shared their experiences with their fellow students once they came back to campus.  These high impact experiences were not expected, nor are they the type that most students have in college.


My Own Experience


Being part of the TWC Convention program, I was able to work with the cream of the proverbial crop when it comes to young people not only in the United States, but also in the world. These students were bright, ambitious, and simply wanted to soak up as much as they could during their short time at the Convention.


In addition to my work with the students, I was able to make outstanding professional contacts with other faculty leaders.  They have become some of my closest friends and I am excited to work with them again during future seminars! Of course, bringing my own experiences at the Conventions back to the classroom has been invaluable.  It informs my own research and has provided insights about the political process I simply could not have achieved without participating in the program.


View photos of the DNC and RNC on our Flickr channel:


1. Republican National Convention (RNC) Check-In and Orientation

2. Hillsborough Community College (HCC) Welcome Reception

3. RNC Faculty Orientation

4. RNC Programming

5. RNC Game Day Event at Game Time Tampa

6. RNC Programming: Part 2

7. RNC Seminar Participants Tour the Official Convention Floor

8. First Day of the RNC

9. RNC: Day 2

10. RNC: Day 3

11. RNC: Day 4

12. Around-The-Clock at the RNC

13. DNC Campaign 2012 Seminar Kicks Off

14. DNC Programming

15. DNC Programming: Part 2

16. Why Charlotte in 2012?

17. V.I.P. Tour of the Time Warner Cable Arena

18. Around-The-Clock at the DNC



Robert Alexander received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.  He is a professor of political science and chair of the History, Politics, and Justice department at Ohio Northern University.  Follow him on twitter @onuprof.


Experience a Day in the Life of an Intern at The Washington Center

Learn More