The first thing I had noticed when I stepped into the Democratic National Committee was that it never sleeps. As I overheard someone say while waiting for orientation to start, “…There’s only 62 days until the convention,” and over the past four weeks, it’s been so exciting to play even a small part in getting ready for the convention and general election.
This summer, I’m working at the DNC’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. as an intern in the research department. My fellow interns and I assist the research staffers, so we have been involved in several long-term projects. Our usual duties include transcription, data entry, some archival work, and sampling every food truck that parks near the Capitol South metro stop. We have had the opportunity to attend some events as well.
I knew political research was essential for a campaign, but I did not know how in-depth the research was until I became a part of it. Whenever I saw an article or political ad, I rarely thought about how exactly that information was gathered, but now I appreciate the fact that it might have taken a researcher or team hours of sifting through obscure material to find it. Also, the DNC’s research is mostly opposition research. As an individual, I believe getting to know the opposition is just as important as being well versed in your own side when deciding for whom to vote, even if it is an easy choice. As an organization, the DNC’s goal is clearly for their party’s candidate to be elected president, and opposition research is an important part of that process.
I think that this internship will influence my career path in several ways. Political research is so important, so whether I work for a non-profit, a political consulting firm, or a campaign (or, most likely, all three at different points in my career), it will likely involve research. Besides the work itself though, the DNC is just an incredible work environment. This intern class has only been here for four weeks, but already we have gotten immersed in projects, attended events and seen major political figures speak, worked closely with our supervisors, and learned about the other departments’ work through talks given by other senior staffers. The work itself has been interesting, but in this field in particular, it is so important to make connections and learn from others’ experiences. I certainly have plenty of opportunities to do that, and I can’t wait to see what the next two months will bring.