How did you get to work for the governor?
As the university is so close to the Capitol, many students are lucky enough to work there. I’d already completed a Willamette internship at the Capitol from February through May this year, and that’s where I met the governor’s director of communications. He recommended I apply for a strategic communications fellowship where Willamette provides a stipend and housing for two of its students to work for the governor or the state treasurer over the summer.
What kind of work did you do?
Everyone in the governor’s office treated me like a colleague, not an intern. It’s a really busy environment, and I was entrusted with meaningful projects, such as updating social media channels, helping develop a new section of the website and gathering citizens’ personal stories about the impact of the Affordable Care Act. When an advisory was issued for Salem’s water, I tracked follow-up resources as they were made available to people. The fellowship was a great experience, and I learned so much about how to communicate well, problem-solve, multitask and respond well to feedback. Besides being good preparation for future jobs, it was such an honor to work there.
What did you enjoy most?
I appreciated the work on the website, which aims to help provide the public with knowledge they need about the work of their government. I really enjoyed the social media campaigns for the ACA and emergency preparedness. I liked knowing that I was working for a bigger cause and trying to help people.
What was the governor like?
Gov. Kate Brown was very friendly and kind. She’d always check in to see how the interns were doing. I got to sit in on her preparation for a speech, and it was amazing to get a behind-the-scenes view of her role as governor.
How did the experience influence your career plans?
I’m still figuring out what I want to do after graduation, and I appreciate that I received this incredible opportunity through Willamette. I’ve always been interested in politics or public service, as I’m concerned about issues such as access to housing or healthcare, or simply helping a community improve its citizens’ lives. I did previous internships at the mayor’s office in my hometown of Oakland, California, and I’m an elected senator for Willamette’s student government, ASWU. Government touches so many areas of people’s lives. I want to be an influence in the political realm, particularly local government, as that’s where I could effect important change.
This article was originally published in the fall 2018 issue of Willamette magazine.