Looking Back and Moving Forward, Part 1

Looking Back and Moving Forward, Part 1

When I arrived in May, I instantly knew D.C. would be next-to-heaven for a politics geeks like myself. What I did not yet know was that it also was the perfect place for me to explore what I want out of my future career and gain the skills I need to be competitive when I enter the workforce. The Washington Center's comprehensive program was also a reminder that you should never limit your life to one focus. Even if it is in a less-structured format, pursuing academic knowledge and engaging in advocacy or service is always something that will enrich the rest of your experiences. Balancing that involvement can be difficult at times, but making the extra effort is definitely worth it.  My ten weeks in Washington D.C. was living proof of that.

At first, I was not sure what to expect from my internship. I knew the general purpose of a political consulting firm, but I had no idea where my place would be within the broad range of campaign activities. I quickly learned the importance of communicating with your employers to achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Approaching your boss can be a daunting task, especially a week into a new job, but I discovered the benefits of those conversations far outweigh the perceived risks. After a few days of uncertainty, I became more and more comfortable with the fit in my office. The work I did throughout the summer offered me incredible insight into the complex and rapidly changing components of a campaign. Although I learned from the projects I completed, the best part of the internship was learning from my bosses who have incredible experience in the field of campaigning. I hope to consider them mentors going forward, but their guidance this summer was invaluable.

My academic course "Campaigning for a Cause" turned out to be a perfect complement to my internship.  The consulting firm I worked for had a history helping issue-advocacy campaigns, but had since transitioned to doing more candidate work. Since I was seeing more of the inner workings of House and Senate campaigns in my internship, it was interesting to learn about a different form of campaigning. The two have many similarities but it was fascinating to explore their differences, both big and small.  When I drafted my final assignment for the course -- a mock proposal for an issue advocacy campaign -- I drew from my professional experience to flesh out some of the details.  My experience in my course and my internship played off each other in a way that made both of them more rewarding.  In the second part of this post I will discuss how my civic engagement project was woven into all of this and what the experience will mean to me going forward.

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

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