To the onlooker, politics is the finished product. What we see has been polished and practiced and strained through countless lenses of expertise. The ironic duality of politics is how the practice of serving the people can oftentimes feel inaccessible, inhuman. I would recommend an internship such as mine to anyone interested in policy or politics, a thousand times over, because it offered a stripped-back view of how a campaign can be honed into something both electable and beneficial to the community; a rare view from the inside-out.
My advice is, first, to be prepared to grow attached to your team. Spending so much time together, cramped up in converted office spaces and driving long stretches across the state, late nights, coffee runs, donut runs, taco runs…we really love food here; each moment is electric with adrenaline and a common cause. It’s a very specific kind of partnership with the people around you, intoxicating and fulfilling because you morally align.
Second, you must come in graciously and earnestly seeking to learn. By committing yourself to listening––really listening––to the senior members of your staff, to the constituents, to the families and children that are counting on you with dire consequences, you will simultaneously expand your understanding of the larger world and make yourself an asset in the workplace. Soaking up each interaction, each muttered complaint or update in policy, offers you the opportunity to become a leader. One of the best, one with both skill and incredible compassion.
At the end of the day, there is no proper or full way to prepare for an internship in such a dynamic field like statewide politics. The beauty, the education, is in the experience.