Hometown: Macon, Georgia
Leadership studies major with French and law in the liberal arts minors
Governor’s Fellows Program, Office of Governor Bob McDonnell (R), Secretary of Commerce and Trade

What drew you to this particular organization?

I was in Gov. Tim Kaine’s class at Jepson, Leadership Breakthroughs, in the spring of 2010. He knew about the internship requirement for Jepson majors and, knowing my interests in politics and law, convinced me to apply. It’s a really competitive program that gives students the opportunity to experience state government from the inside and has a great reputation in Richmond and Washington, D.C.

What projects did you work on?

Most of my work in the governor’s office revolved around economic development and job creation, the priority of Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration. I performed research for some of the staff members and redesigned the Secretariat’s website to better reflect the agenda of economic development and job creation. On a daily basis, I answered phone calls and wrote response letters to constituents, working to help them find the best way to solve their problems with the Commonwealth. One of my major projects was gathering data and resources to begin creating the Workforce Development report that will become part of the governor's Economic Development Strategic Plan.

Are you finding connections between what you’ve studied in Jepson classes and what you’re learning on the job? 

I have come across a lot of the themes we learned in Justice and Civil Society. A lot of the work involves finding a balance between the reality of American society and the needs and desires of the citizens of the Commonwealth.

Is this something that you see yourself doing after graduation?

I have always wanted to work in government or with the law. My internship has solidified that dream. I would love to work in an environment like the governor’s office in the future, a friendly, fast-paced atmosphere with the goal of serving the citizens of the Commonwealth first and foremost. I met some great people and had some truly amazing mentors and colleagues in my internship.

What’s been the most interesting or surprising part of the internship experience?

The most interesting part of my internship was being able to sit in on meetings, whether I was actively participating or absorbing as much information as possible. These meetings showed me how the different departments of state government were so interrelated. Meetings about alternative forms of energy involved the Secretary of Natural Resources, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Secretary of Commerce and Trade. The most memorable part of my internship was attending events and press conferences with the governor and his staff. Being a part of something so important was really humbling.

Photo: Intern Melissa Collins with Gov. Bob McDonnel (R)