By Ellie Keating ’23
Funding Source: Smart Family Communications Internship Grant
My name is Eleanor Keating and I am a rising sophomore; I am interested in Political Science, Spanish, and Environmental Studies. Two years ago, I was volunteering for a “Get Out the Vote!” shift at Montclair State University, my hometown’s local college. I randomly met the candidate Mikie Sherrill, the woman who I was campaigning for, canvassing in a Starbucks on my way home. She saw my “Mikie Sherrill for Congress” shirt, thanked me for all the hard work I was doing, and told me to keep an eye out for internship opportunities in 2020. I did as I was told, and this summer I am interning with Mikie Sherrill for Congress, made possible by the Smart Family Communications Internship grant.
I have had an outstanding time and gained valuable experience in a communications environment so far interning with Representative Sherrill’s campaign and office. This furthered my interest in pursuing a Political Science major at Haverford College and a political communications career beyond Haverford.
I was planning on my experience including a 20 minute commute from home in the campaign office but then it became completely remote in late April due to COVID-19. Starting out, I was a bit overwhelmed and confused because there was a lot of information, but not a lot of structure. Since then, I have made new friends, connections, and created a weekly routine for myself which has been both productive and fun. It has not been nearly as difficult as I expected to build personal relationships with in-district as well as national staff members, other interns, volunteers, and Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill herself. We have daily 11am meetings in addition to smaller weekly team meetings where we plan the agenda, but also just talk and enjoy each other’s company as we would in a real office! All of the 60-70 interns working for the campaign are split into six teams, and I lead the Blue Team; we meet over Zoom weekly where I plan and distribute assignments to my team members. New Jersey’s primary election was July 7th, so most of my interns have focused on textbanking, phonebanking, and volunteer recruitment. My supervisors have been immensely supportive toward all the interns and impressed with our productivity; one example includes our success in getting over 10,000 registered voters to mail in their ballots and become accustomed to mail-in voting (which may be mandatory in November).
Some tasks have noticeably been modified due to the pandemic: meetings between interns and staff, organizing public events, and meeting with community members to answer questions related to the campaign. However, educating volunteers on the voting process and promoting the campaign on social media has been manageable since the only real change is talking over the phone rather than in person. I have learned to resolve issues with constituents, train volunteers, organize virtual public social events, interact with voters via social media, and assist with advertisement projects and press releases.
Although I have only attended Haverford for one year, it has been incredibly helpful in preparing me for this internship. Oral presentations from my Writing Seminar and participating in discussion-based Political Science courses has been beneficial in allowing me to confidently discuss a variety of topics with voters. Haverford has enhanced my ability to communicate with others and adapt to different circumstances, which has helped me work from home while still creating friendships and having discussions with the people on my team.
For future students interested in participating in experiences similar to my own, show your engagement with politics and remember it can never hurt to apply for anything that catches your eye! You are also more than welcome to reach out to me personally with any questions. Especially with the recently increased public awareness of injustice that is institutionalized in our society, and recent attention toward movements like Black Lives Matter, this work has been extremely meaningful to me so far. It is encouraging to work with others toward structural change and discuss relevant issues with people of all ages in New Jersey. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity when so much else has been placed on hold, and I am extremely lucky to have the mobility and resources to complete this internship from home. I’d like to thank the CCPA for helping me with my resume and for helping me be fully prepared to apply for my internship. Finally, I would like to thank the Smart Family for providing this opportunity and funding to allow me to spend my summer engaging with my town, learning about local and state issues, and gaining experience in a campaign office – all of which I can carry with me for my future political interests.