I spent the last semester of undergrad at American University in Washington DC. Then after some time off, I went to work for an organization, The American Conservative Union, I interned with while studying at American. The position I held was the Assistant to the CPAC director. I was helping to organize, plan, and run the 7,000 strong annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference).
Some of the Rewards and Challenges of this Position:
It was a chance to demonstrate my capacity for adapting to evolving challenges, especially at the Conference itself. The position relied heavily on a great capacity for capable writing skills, all of which were sharpened through IWU's rigorous writing standards. Being the D.C. area held many rewards. I got to attend weekly conservative briefings and meet with political power players including, Grover Norquist, Roy Blunt, Newt Gingrich, Ann Coulter, and Mitt Romney.
Your most Exciting or Worthwhile Experience in this Position:
It was thrilling to be able to be a part of something that was of meaningful international significance. CPAC had over a hundred speakers including President Bush, Vice President Cheney, Republican nominee John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee. We had over 600 members of the media in attendance. It has become en event of such significance that Mitt Romney chooses CPAC to announce his withdrawal from the presidential race. The conference was front page news for all three days that it ran. Being an integral part of something so special will stay with me for the rest of my life.
How did the education you received from Illinois Wesleyan's Political Science Department help prepare you for this position?
When I was deciding on a school the old IWU Admissions Director James Routi said casually with me and my father that there are essentially three thing you need to be able to do well: read, write, and think. It seems simple, but it's true, and equally true that constantly working to sharpen those skills will be the most crucial tools in securing jobs and doing them well. The broad liberal arts base that an IWU education provided was essential in building the intellectual tools for successful job performance.
Advice You Would Like to Give to Wesleyan's Current Political Science Majors:
As I am sure IWU students are aware, there is a statue outside of Ames library of former IWU president Minor Myers. Engraved nearby is the question "What is your passion?" Apparently he would look over his lowered glasses and eye student with that question. I never met the man, but because his death was so recent at the time of my entrance into IWU we heard much about him. His way of thinking seemed perfectly in line with my own. My advice to students is that, yes, you need to study hard, do your papers, and get good grades, but don't let that be the goal of your labor. Instead you have to look inside yourself and after reflection find that fire that drives you everyday. Do it and you will never work a day in your life. Find your passion, love it, and live it.