How She Got That Internship is a series that highlights conservative women’s internships in various organizations and positions to inspire the next generation of conservative women to lead. Did you, or a young woman that you know, have an internship experience you want to share with our readers? Submit it in this form and we will contact you if we think it would be a great fit for the series.
Summer is perhaps the best time for young leaders to invest in themselves by gaining valuable work experience, namely through internships. FFL is sitting down with a number interns to reflect on this year’s highlights and encourage more young leaders to apply for next year’s internships.
Erika is a junior at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape, Girardeau Missouri where she is majoring in political science and minoring in economics, planning to graduate in May 2020. Erika is from a small town in central Illinois which will always be her home, but Missouri is where she currently resides. Last spring Erika interned in the Missouri House of Representatives with two state representatives. She has also interned in Senator Roy Blunt’s regional Cape Girardeau office. Currently, Erika works in her University’s President’s office as a legislative aide to the chief of staff and is the president of her sorority. In the future, Erika plans on attending law school and wants to pursue lobbying.
How did you find out about the position, and why did you decide to apply?
I was interning in the state capitol for the semester and one of my friends told me that she had just started interning at the party and that she could have them look at my resume. I decided to apply because I was already in the Capitol every day and was in Jefferson city for the whole semester so I might as well make the most of it. A couple days later I went in for an interview and they offered me an internship on the spot and wanted me to start right then.
What was the driving force behind choosing to work at as an intern for the Missouri Republican Party?
One of the main reasons I wanted to intern at the MRP was because I am from the very blue state of Illinois which is vastly different than Missouri. In Illinois it is basically like fighting a losing battle, as far as Republicans are concerned. In Missouri, there are all but one Republican statewides, Republican house and senate, and our two senators are now Republican. I wanted to know what it was like to work for a political party too. We always hear about the RNC or DNC in the media but I personally never thought about what they actually do on a day to day basis. I also wanted to take advantage of every opportunity I could while spending my semester in the capital city.
Had you interned before? If so, where?
Yes, prior to starting at the MOGOP I had interned in Senator Roy Blunt’s Cape Girardeau Regional office and had been interning at the Missouri Capitol for about a month and a half before I started at the party additionally.
Describe a typical day at your internship.
While the legislature was still in session I would go in after I was done at the capital which typically was not until 4:30/ 5 and then I would stay until about 8 or so, whenever I would get to a good stopping point. I did work all day on Friday since there was not session on Friday. Once session was over however, I was there full time.
I don’t think there ever really was a typical day while I was there. Yes, I would still check the mail, answer phones, and make sure the kitchen was stocked like most interns do, but most days would vary on what we would be doing. Some days I would be in the office for example working on a list of polling places and other days I would be out in the field knocking doors. This is what made me love it so much because I never knew what each day was going to bring.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of working for the Missouri Republican Party?
The most rewarding part of working at the MRP was knowing that I was helping candidates during their campaigns who would ultimately go on to win their races. Just playing a small role in each of the races made a huge impact across the state.
What was the biggest WOW moment of your internship?
My most memorable moment would most definitely have to be when Josh Hawley won his senate race and unseated Claire McCaskill. We had all been working so hard since about May until election night. As I was watching the polls come in it was pretty close for a while, but when I saw Fox predicted Josh to win I was overcome with a sense of pride, achievement, and gratitude. I may have shed a few tears too, although I am not sure if they were from pure happiness, exhaustion, or the fact that it was all over. Nevertheless, I don’t think I will ever forget that moment.
The day before this was when President Trump had a rally in Cape Girardeau and that would most definitely play a part in Election Day. I was in charge of all of the volunteers for the rally which was something I had never done before. The whole week leading up to the event was a whirlwind, as I was awaiting the final word on if the President was actually going to come to my town or not. Once I did get the final yes, I don’t think I slept more than 10 hours the week before not only the election but the presidential visit as well. In the end it was all very well worth it and I do not regret any of it.
Looking back over your time in the internship, what’s been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned as a result of your time working for the Missouri Republican Party?
This is a hard one because I learned so many different things in my time there. I learned about the way the party is ran with the Chairman and State Committee, learned about the different areas of the state, and learned how to print maps on the big printer. I know that sounds kind of silly, but I guess the most valuable lesson I learned is that no job is to small. Everyone has to put in work in order to get things done.
Would you apply to work at the Missouri Republican Party again, and what advice would you give to future applicants?
Yes, I would absolutely work at the MRP again. It was a summer of constantly learning new things and fun. Of course there were stressful and tense times too, but we overcame those.
Advice I would give would have to be to not be afraid to ask questions. It is better to get the project right the first time and ask multiple questions rather than have to redo it because you were too afraid to ask. I would also have to say do not be afraid to say your opinion. I was the only woman in the office and it sometimes felt hard to voice my opinion but I eventually I found my ground and spoke up.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Do not be afraid of failure, it is a natural part of life. You never know if you will be good enough for something unless you try.