by Carly McWilliams '09
“Minnesota? Why are you moving out there?” “You’re a Republican? How did you get involved with that?”
These are the common questions I get when I tell people about my summer internship working for the 2008 Republican National Convention. The answers to these questions are quite simple: Minnesota is a part of the country I have never been --- so why not? Also, I have always been a Republican, and this is the best way I can imagine to support and familiarize myself with the political world. As a communication major, I have explored many career opportunities and have found that working for the Republican National Convention is a great match is terms of my interests and skill sets.
I first began considering working for the convention last spring when Gordon Pennoyer, a former faculty member of the boarding school I attended and the current deputy director of media operations, presented me with an opportunity to intern at the convention this summer.
I was not very familiar with the political world, but the idea of working so intensely with so many members of the media (approximately 15,000 people) was exhilarating and irresistible. After spending a semester in New York City this past spring on the Hamilton Program working in the fashion industry, I decided I wanted to try something different. This internship offered an opportunity to start in the political realm (which I have instantly fallen in love with), spend a summer in Minnesota and meet people with similar political stances as myself from all parts of the country. Most importantly, I have the opportunity to help the Senator McCain become the next president of the United States.
I was in seventh grade when my U.S. history teacher told us about John McCain. I instantly felt inspired by his story, dedication to our country, his character and profound sense of integrity. That day in seventh grade, I found faith in both our political system and politicians. This was not only a unique opportunity and something no other internship or job could compete with, this was also a chance to work for something that I truly believed in.
This past spring I got back in touch with Gordon and inquired about the internship and application process. I quickly filled out an application with several essay questions and later had a phone interview with a member of staff at the 2008 Republican National Convention. Nearly 150 people applied to intern but only 27 individuals were selected. Nearly half of the interns come from states other than Minnesota, the furthest being Alaska! The collective group is quite impressive and consists of intelligent and motivated students and recent graduates.
Upon my arrival on June 1, our intern coordinator, Julie Ann, and several other interns greeted me. The entire convention staff was extremely welcoming and accommodating. There is a very high level of intensity and professionalism throughout the entire organization, which makes work both exciting and rewarding regardless the task. Our first week here we were put through an thorough orientation that familiarized us with the convention goals, mission and culture. This first week made our transition much easier. I was most impressed by all of the individuals who came to speak with us both about their personal histories and current responsibilities.
Convention President and CEO Maria Cino and Vice President Mel Raines introduced themselves and welcomed us to Saint Paul. Everyone emphasized the importance of the interns’ role over the next three months, and many told us of their personal experiences being interns earlier in their careers. By the close of the first week I was excited to be part of such a remarkable organization.