Campaign Lessons

Internships give students experience working on Senate campaigns

July 25, 2012

When Brian Cherry, ’13, signed up for a leadership studies course taught by former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine last spring, he thought it would be a good opportunity to learn about law and government.

When he needed an internship this summer, he knew exactly where he wanted to work – on his former teacher’s Senate campaign.  

“I have always been interested in politics, and I think I can learn a lot by engaging in a high-profile race such as this one,” says Cherry.  

He applied to work with the campaign through SpiderConnect and Career Services.

Cherry is one of two leadership studies students getting an inside look at one of the closest Senate races in the country this summer.

Kelsey Kaetzel, ’13, interned with George Allen's campaign from May until early July. Both students are receiving academic credit for their work and fulfilling their Jepson internship requirement.

“The fact that it is a major election year made it all the more exciting and gave me even more incentive to get involved,” says Kaetzel, a double major in leadership studies and political science.

Her job included speaking with constituents, planning events and distributing information. Cherry is working primarily with social media.

She landed the internship thanks to another internship with Delegate Chris Peace. 

“I started interning at the Virginia General Assembly in January and kept up my internship through the summer,” she says.  “Delegate Peace's chief of staff was working for the George Allen campaign and she suggested that I experience the campaigning aspect of politics since I had only experienced the legislative aspect.

“She hired me as an intern for the campaign and I was fortunate enough to continue working with her in both Delegate Peace's office and the campaign headquarters in Richmond for the summer.” 

Both students say they have been able to see leadership studies theories in action.

“During my junior year, I took Theories and Models of Leadership, a class that breaks down various approaches to understanding what successful leadership entails,” says Cherry. “It has been interesting to observe how supervisors empower and motivate members of their department and volunteers who come through the office during the week.”

Cherry and Kaetzel have also been able to interact with the respective candidates and observe how the candidates interact with other campaign workers.

“By being able to experience so many aspects of the campaign, I have been able to see how different leadership skills work at different levels,” says Kaetzel.        


Photo credit: Architect of the Capitol