Friday, December 9, 2011

Democratic National Convention 2012 Notebook: DNCC looks for next class of interns

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2011 at 3:23 PM

A registered Independent, 24-year-old Douglas Cole worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008 and Organizing for America in 2010.
  • A registered Independent, 24-year-old Douglas Cole worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008 and Organizing for America in 2010.

Time is running out on internships at the Democratic National Convention Committee for Shaneice Simmons, Douglas Cole and Miguel Jaramillo. But the three Central Piedmont Community College students hope to return for the January-April session, to learn about politics and business and to help shape the 2012 Democratic convention in Charlotte.

The “class” will expand from 10 to 40 openings for students from colleges and universities in the region, with a Dec. 16 deadline for applications, so there will be plenty of opportunities that range from greeting visitors at the front desk to assisting department heads with special projects. (Students can go to their college career centers for information.)

“Everybody who works here has been an intern at one time,” said Cole. “Everybody was new.” The 24-year-old sophomore, a history major with a minor in education, has always been politically active and seems the one most likely to run for office some day. A registered Independent, he worked for Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2008 and Organizing for America in 2010. Though Cole is earning some credit for a political science class, he said that wasn’t a consideration. The native of St. Clair, Mich., said, “It’s a chance to be involved in something this big in a city I’ve grown to love.”

Simmons and Cole both work in communications, with duties that include monitoring and collecting media coverage of DNCC events, and attending many of them, including the recent Charlotte visit of President Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett.

Like other interns, Simmons, 19, from Nakina in eastern North Carolina, had to write two essays and collect three letters of recommendation before being called for an interview. Regular lunch meetings with senior staffers, including CEO Steve Kerrigan, have been the best part of her experience, she said. “They give us a lot of advice,” she said, such as “you really have to know how to manage people” and “treat others the way you want to be treated” in business and in life.

Miguel Jaramillo, 28, probably traveled the farthest, so to speak. The Ecuador native, who moved to Charlotte in 2007, plans to transition to UNC Charlotte next spring to continue with his study of international business. At the DNCC, Jaramillo works in the office of the chief of staff, on procurement, scheduling, accounting, as well as data base and human resource issues.

His interest in U.S. politics intensified when former President Bill Clinton visited Ecuador. As a citizen, Jaramillo cast his first vote for President Obama. “It was important for me, seeing someone of color” running for president, he said. “I never imagined I would be an intern.”

All three support President Obama’s reelection bid, which would make spending 20-plus hours a week surrounded by posters and memorabilia a lot easier. They are confident, despite early reports of a youth enthusiasm gap, that younger voters will become more active in the campaign as November 2012 draws closer.

All students are welcome to apply; applications do ask for party affiliation. According to the DNCC, since it’s a political organization affiliated with the Democratic Party, demonstrating a commitment to the party is one of many factors that will be considered. Interns this session also came from UNC Charlotte, Davidson College, Charlotte School of Law and Winthrop University; they worked in areas that also included intergovernmental affairs and outreach, legal, technology and the office of the CEO.

Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning Charlotte, N.C.-based journalist, is a contributor to The Washington Post, The Root, NPR, Creative Loafing and the Nieman Watchdog blog. Her “Keeping It Positive” segment airs Wednesdays at 7:10 on TV’s Fox News Rising Charlotte, and she was national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter.

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