2016 PFIG Recipient Maia Rosewelsh
Journal Entry #1
I had a difficult time deciding where I wanted to intern. After talking with my parents, I realized that the only thing holding me back from accepting an internship in DC was my fear of being in a big city. I am from Williamsburg and because it is a small town, I never had to learn how to use public transportation. I was anxious that I would get lost in DC and was worried about having to use the metro. Instead of choosing an internship where I could use my car, I decided to step outside my comfort zone and intern in DC. I realized that if I want to pursue a job in politics, I will constantly have to face unfamiliar situations and need to get used to embracing them. Over winter break, I was in Des Moines, Iowa working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. That was the first time I had ever flown alone or gone on vacation without my parents. Traveling alone also seemed scary, but looking back on that experience, I am so glad I did not let my fears inhibit me from accepting that opportunity.
I have set several goals for this summer. I want to improve my understanding of what goes into running a campaign: the role of funding, how potential candidates are identified, and the factors that influence whether a campaign is successful. While in DC, I would also like to learn more about the different types of jobs available in politics by creating personal and professional relationships.
My first week was very exciting. On my first day, I went through orientation and got to meet the other intern working in my department. Our first assignment involved compiling political news clips. My first draft had some errors. For example, I needed to have narrowly tailored what I was pulling from articles since the final draft would be sent out to different email lists. My supervisor was very helpful and provided constructive criticism. By the end of the week, we were able to compile the morning news clips without edits.
One of the best things about being in DC is its rich political history and the ability to watch history happen. There are a lot of free events in DC for interns, which is a great way to network and to learn more about different political jobs. I was also finally able to meet my mentor from the Virginia Alumni Mentoring program. She had to attend a breakfast meeting with Rep. John Lewis and invited me to join her. The day of the breakfast was the 55th anniversary of the day Rep. Lewis had been arrested in Jackson, Mississippi. It was an incredible opportunity to be able to hear him talk about his involvement in the Civil Rights movement. I also went to an event at the Newseum with my mentor where policy analysts from Hillary Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ campaigns spoke on a panel on education policy. It was interesting to hear directly from their individual campaigns about their education policy and to compare the similarities and differences between the two. The event was also a chance to meet representatives from different education organizations and to learn about different careers in education policy.
Even though the first week was stressful, it erased my anxieties about living in DC and reaffirmed my commitment to a career in public service.
Journal Entry #2
It is hard to believe that I am more than halfway done with my internship. It is strange how easy it is to settle into a routine and it will be an adjustment to return to my once familiar school routine.
I thought my internship would help me narrow down what I want to do after I graduate, but instead, it has expanded my interests. However, it has helped me decide that I want to pursue a career in politics. By talking to people I have met in DC and through my internship, I have learned a lot about the different possible job options, especially in campaigns. This has been very helpful because I have always been interested in the idea of working on a campaign, but the idea of pursuing a job with an end date was pretty terrifying. Having the chance to talk to talk to people with campaign experience has been reassuring and helped me narrow down what aspects of that job interest me.
This has been an interesting summer to intern in DC. I was able to attend Hillary Clinton’s first speech as the presumptive Democratic nominee. The moment was very special and I will always remember it. It definitely made the canvassing I did for her last January in below zero weather worth it. Moreover, it is impressive thinking about all the hard work and planning that went into getting to that day. Through my internship, I have gained a better understanding of how state-level campaigns work and it is mind boggling to think of that in a national context. Another interesting event I went to was the Whole Woman’s Health decision day at the Supreme Court. I was excited to go because I researched this case for one of my classes, so it was great to be able to get a copy of the bench opinion and to be there when the decision was released.
Besides all the wonderful memories from this summer, I have become a more confident person. For example, I have gotten comfortable with city life, which, coming from a small town, I did not think would happen. During my first week, I got terribly lost and was worried about how the rest of my summer would go. I am proud to say that I now know how to use the metro and I no longer need a map to get around. My horrible sense of direction was another reason why I was worried about campaign life. I did not think I would be good at a job that requires you to move to strange places and familiarize yourself with the area. I now know that learning these things is just a matter of time and experience.
I look forward to continuing my internship and will be very sad when I have to leave next month. That said, I know I’ll enjoy being back at UVA and the classroom.
Journal Entry #3
It is sad to think that my summer internship in DC is drawing to a close. I have attended meetings, written memos, researched candidates, and learned where to find the best food in DC. Most importantly, I have accomplished the goals I set for myself earlier in the summer: to learn more about how campaigns work and to build my personal and professional network.
Through my internship, I have learned so much about campaigns. Before this summer, I thought candidates were just spontaneously generated. Now, I know that becoming a political candidate is a very extensive process and that a campaign is so much more than just a candidate making speeches. There is a vast network of people working behind every candidate to ensure victory. Their efforts include finance, field work, logistics, and communications. I learned this through informational coffee meetings and lunches and by talking to people already involved in politics.
Whenever I ask someone what the best part of working on a campaign is, they say, the feeling you get when you win. I felt that feeling when I watched Hillary Clinton formally secure the Democratic nomination. That is how I know I have found the right career path. I cannot wait to use the skills I have learned from this summer internship in my future endeavors.
Profound thanks to the Parent’s Fund Internship Grant for making my summer possible.