Back in April, I decided I didn’t want a lazy summer. Last summer I worked almost full time at the church, but my hours cut back a little over the fall. That was fine for me, and it was great with classes in session. But after a pretty chill week of spring break, I did not look forward to working only two days per week.
A few weeks later, I got an email from the chair of our English Department about a summer internship in Lancaster City working for Jess King, a progressive congressional candidate running in my conservative district, I thought, “Why not?” I think I was a little more excited than that, but I’ve learned to have low expectations in case things don’t work out. I had no idea what I was getting into, but I liked what I read about Jess, and people who know her personally had very good things to say about her. Plus, she’s Mennonite, so why not support my fellow Mennonite girl? I also figured it’d make a great story to tell any future kids one day. I applied, and a little over a month later, I was started as an intern on the events planning team.
I never really thought I’d work on any type of political campaign. Politics are often seen as dry and boring, and traditional campaigns do not look fun at all. But after the 2016 election, something changed in me. I found it hard to just sit back and do nothing. But I also had no idea what to do. I tried to better educate myself on politics and started to pay more attention to local elections, but I wasn’t actively doing anything. Then that email came along, and I knew it was something to try. Bonus: I need an internship to graduate. Double bonus: This gets me just a little closer to becoming Leslie Knope. Triple bonus: I get to help try to flip a typically conservative district to a.. hopefully less conservative district. #resist
So here I am, in the middle of July, a solid month into this internship and let me tell you, politics are not boring. Campaigning is not boring, especially grassroots campaigning (Think of Barack Obama’s successful campaign in 2008 and Bernie Sanders’ in 2016, even though Clinton beat him for the Democratic nomination). Every day spent in the office is a nonstop party. We work hard and we’re making things happen. Two weeks into starting, I along with Abbey, another intern, was promoted to leader of the events team. I wasn’t expecting it, but I’m enjoying a bit more of the leadership that comes along with the role. The last weekend of June we had TWELVE Town Hall events. In 4 days. It was wild but so fun. This coming August we’re doing eleven events in 3 days. We’re in the thick of booking venues and promoting the events and it’s busy, but rewarding.
This whole internship really once again seems to cement the theme in my life of, “Hey, let’s try that thing and see how it goes.” I really didn’t see this opportunity coming because before I took my writing for civic change class, I never would have considered this internship. But I did because why not?
And even though politics and English typically don’t go together, they should. Don’t we want our President and other leaders to be good and effective communicators? I’m not talking just about public speaking, I mean in every area of communication. Even tweets with glaring grammatical errors make leaders look sloppy. English helps with that. Sadly, I think I might be the only English major in attendance out of close to 70 interns. Nearly everyone else is not surprisingly, either a government or economics major with the exception of perhaps the finance team or those still in high school. Why are English majors avoiding the political realm? This is something I hope to further investigate.
I have no idea where this internship may lead. I don’t currently see a future in politics, but clearly, I never know where things lead. I do know that I find this whole grassroots campaign style intriguing. Whether or not I find a spot in politics I know I want to write about Jess and this courageous race she’s in. I certainly did not apply just to have good writing material, but at this point, I realize everything in life is writing material. And like everything else, we’ll see where that leads too!
Let’s just say this summer is anything but lazy. It feels so good.