Name: Fiona Schultz
Major(s): History; Political Science and Environmental Studies Minors
Class Year: 2023
Organization Name: FairVote
Intern Title: Partnerships and Advocacy Intern
Describe your internship roles, responsibilities and significant contributions.
This summer I had the honor of interning at FairVote, a DC-based nonpartisan organization working to reform elections and implement ranked choice voting around the United States. Ranked choice voting (or RCV) is an electoral system in which individuals are able to rank multiple candidates based on personal preference, rather than casting their vote for a single candidate. At FairVote, I served as an intern in both the Partnerships and Advocacy departments. I attended staff meetings, designed and conducted several research projects, gathered data, and produced blog posts about relevant topics. My biggest contribution was my power mapping project, where I collected and synthesized data about relevant organizations and individuals in twelve target states and three target cities. A feature of my internship that I particularly liked was that everybody, interns included, was expected to be well-informed about current events. Though I have always followed the news, working at a political reform organization required me to engage with local and national news sites.
How did your internship aid in your career exploration or decision making?
Working at FairVote really solidified my interest in working at a political organization. While I certainly do not see myself running for office or working on a campaign, I appreciate that organizations like FairVote exist to bring me in perfect proximity to DC, the political hub of the United States. I have always been a cause-driven person, meaning I need to believe in the cause/message of the organization I am working for. I believed in FairVote’s cause from the get-go and I think that that helped me to succeed. At Denison I am a History major, which has always been a daunting thing for me. Because I do not want to go into academia, I never really knew what I would be able to do with a History degree post-college. Staff at the Knowlton Center always stress that your major does not determine your future career, and I agree with that point. My history classes set me up to succeed in my internship this past summer and, I am almost certain, any career I choose to pursue in the future. Through my internship with FairVote, I was able to apply the skills I have gained at Denison to a professional experience.
What advice do you have for future interns?
I believe that it is never too early to get started on your internship search. Even if job postings don’t start popping up til the spring, you can spend the fall and winter tweaking your resume, finding organizations you are interested in, familiarizing yourself with cover letter formats, and networking with people who have relevant careers. The more time you give yourself to explore different careers and positions, the more likely you are to land an internship that you will love.
Aside from your internship, are there other tools, resources or programs that have supported your career exploration?
The network of people I have met on my pre-professional journey is a resource I will never take for granted. Networking is something that seems so simple and yet is crucial to career exploration and development. Previous employers, Denison alumni, family friends, History professors, Knowlton Center staff; all of these individuals have helped me one way or another understand what I can do with my future. Mentorship opportunities are everywhere if you take the time to foster these relationships.