Summer 2015 political internships provide national, international opportunities

Posted by Centre News in Internships, News, Politics 28 Jul 2015

dcHaving hosted two vice presidential debates, Centre College has served as a hub for political discourse among global communities, inspiring students to explore political conversations and educational opportunities both in and beyond the classroom. This summer, three students are doing just that by engaging in political internship opportunities across the world.

Alex Ferrera '16 with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Alex Ferrera ’16 with the President of Croatia, Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović.

Alexandra Ferrera ’16 is working as the summer management intern at the U.S. Embassy in Croatia. She began her work in June after returning from a semester abroad in London.

For Ferrera, there is no “typical day” of work at the Embassy; the only consistent activities are daily embassy-wide press briefings and the ambassador’s meeting with the section heads.

She was recently tasked with planning the embassy’s Independence Day party—an “exhausting” undertaking, considering that the holiday is used as a diplomatic event at American embassies around the world. Over 600 people, including the President of Croatia, attended the party.

“I prepared the gifts for the guests, set up tents, greeted VIPs, directed groups and helped coordinate arrivals and drop offs before the party,” Ferrera says. “At the actual event, I met diplomats from other embassies, four star generals, deputy prime ministers and the President of Croatia herself.”

She is currently crafting the ambassador’s briefing book, which details each section of the embassy and its constituent staff, to be given to Ambassador Julieta Noyes when she takes her post in August.

“There is something satisfying about knowing I am going to physically contribute to representing the U.S.’s policies and initiatives in Croatia, as well as help the incoming Ambassador understand the country and embassy she is inheriting,” Ferrera says.

Back in the United States, Alisha Russell ’16 and Hunt VanderToll ’16 are spending the summer on Capitol Hill, both serving as interns in Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell’s office.

Russell and VanderToll heard about their internships while working with different organizations on McConnell’s re-election campaign last summer and fall.

“At the end of the summer, I wanted to see what working for the senator was like on the non-election side, so a mentor of mine on the campaign encouraged me to apply as an intern for the Washington D.C. office,” VanderToll explains.

An average day for Russell begins by compiling all national news mentions of McConnell to distribute to staffers and the senator himself. She later does the same for all Kentucky-based media outlets and then archives them.

She especially enjoys the staff’s media stakeout, which she says gives her a “behind-the-scenes look at the relationship between our nation’s leaders and the media.”

“Each week I take photos for the McConnell social media outlets of the senator and his leadership team,” she says. “I especially enjoy this part of my job, because I get to hear both Republicans and Democrats speak about legislation and provide their commentary.”

Vandertoll spends his days assisting the staff’s legislative correspondent for taxes, banking and trade by responding to constituents via letters, emails and calls.

“A highlight is giving special tours of the Capitol to constituents,” he says. “Getting to spend time in such an important and historic building is a definite upside to this internship.”

For both Russell and VanderToll, their favorite memories of their time in the nation’s capital have been made in the company of the office’s other interns.

“I think one of my favorite memories thus far was spending the Fourth of July with everyone on the steps of the Capitol,” Russell explains. “With ‘God Bless America’ playing and fireworks over the Washington Monument, it wasn’t a bad way to celebrate.”

All three feel as though Centre prepared them well for their internship experiences both here and abroad.

“In a place that moves a mile a minute, having the opportunity to have studied different disciplines has allowed me to keep up with the fast pace of D.C.,” VanderToll concludes. “From the issues studied in American Politics to learning about the architecture of the Capitol in Humanities, Centre gave me the preparation I needed for this internship experience.”

by Hayley Hoffman ‘16
July 28, 2015

Pictured above: Alisha Russell ’16 and Hunt VanderToll ’16 on Senator McConnell’s office balcony at the U.S. Capitol building.