The Fall 2021 Internship class got off to a strong start while I was on vacation. Our Operations team, led by the fabulous Emily McFadyen and the serviceable Ryan Dunn, ensured that the first week of orientation went smoothly. This included a full week of STATA trainings, mentor matching, staff one-on-one’s, department overviews, and intros to the world of campaign finance. Luckily for Emily and Ryan, they didn’t have to create the orientation curriculum from scratch, as we had to do last semester. Plus, this class of four seemed more manageable than our summer class of ten.
The fall class came to us from diverse geographic, personal, and professional backgrounds. Pryor had been a ballet dancer for twelve years. Katia was President of her college’s Spanish and Latino Student Association. Erica was leading multiple student advocacy campaigns at Texas A&M, while Dan was an avid fan of data science and Scrabble. Still, they all shared a passion for campaigns and progressive politics.
Once I arrived back at the office, the interns had already gotten acclimated with their teams. Pryor, Erica, and Dan were with our Fundraising Strategy Team as Data Analysts, while Katia was splitting her time between Sales and Digital. The Fantastic Four joined us at an inflection point. We had just hired four new full-time staff and were shifting existing data analysts to different regions to deal with capacity. The interns handled these adjustments with aplomb. Honestly, it was hard to tell who was an intern and who was a new staff member at first. That would change after two weeks of one-on-one’s and the start of our cultural immersion activities.
The first week of events kicked off with the Congressional baseball game (where Dems took a hard-fought L) and ended with a meet-and-greet with Rep. Mondaire Jones. He was incredibly gracious and answered questions about his role as a Congressman and the upcoming Omnibus vote. The following Friday, we visited the National Mall where we toured the Washington Monument, WWII Memorial, MLK Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. We also played some frisbee (or at least attempted to). The National Mall was followed by a trip to the Hirshhorn Museum the following Friday. You can read all about it in Dan’s blog post from last month. We closed out October with a Halloween Party where Katia stole the show with her AOC “Tax The Rich” dress. Our final events were trips to the African-American History & Culture Museum and the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Both museums were haunting, engaging, and immensely powerful, especially for the interns who had never visited before.
After a whirlwind of events, parties, development activities, midterm check-ins, and work (yes, we actually work sometimes), the program was in its final week. It was a mad-dash to the finish: the interns put final touches on their Fall projects; had exit interviews with their managers; professional development meetings with their mentors; and had their final one-on-one’s with Danny. Emily and I also conducted an internship roundtable where the interns discussed their feedback on the program. It was an honest and enlightening conversation that will help us improve the program for our Spring class starting January of next year.
On the final day, the interns presented their wonderful final projects that ranged from a Housing guide for future interns to a new STATA variable to track the number of emails sent to clients. It was a bittersweet ending to an extraordinary fall. I took solace in the fact that we’ll stay in touch and that many of them will be staying in DC. All-in-all, I couldn’t be prouder of what Katia, Erica, Pryor, and Dan accomplished in their ten weeks here. I was blown away by the growth I witnessed from our first meeting to their final presentations. I wish them all immense success in their future endeavors and can’t wait to see what they do next.
Cheers to an incredible cohort and another successful semester! Now, a quick nap, and on to Spring.