Becca Wolfe and Mikayla Roller, sophmores, are serving as interns in United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver’s office in Independence, MO.
As midterm elections approach, candidates up for election are seeking extra help from volunteers and interns statewide. Sophomores Mikayla Roller and Rebecca Wolfe are currently interning at United States Representative Emanuel Cleaver’s office in Independence, Mo.
Roller, who majors in institutions & policy, international relations and economics, was originally recommended for the position by her mentor over the summer in Washington D.C. while interning at the Truman Library. When the mentor learned that Wolfe, who majors in institutions & policy and international relations, was also interested in the Cleaver campaign, she recommended her as well.
Roller and Wolfe work at Congressman Cleaver’s office twice a week doing various tasks to help the congressman. The two officially work in the Community Affairs Liaison office, where they help with a variety of tasks like writing letters to community members, contacting high school students who are interested in receiving a nomination from Congressman Cleaver for military academies, making phone calls on behalf of the “Cleaver for Congress” campaign and attending community events and assemblies.
“The typical day varies. Once we even used our crafting skills to create a mount for medals that a veteran had earned,” Wolfe said.
These tasks directly affect constituents, which Wolfe said is the most satisfying part of her work.
“Congressional offices handle a lot of casework, which involves open back-and-forth communication so that we can help people. These tasks are the most important part of working in a congressional office for me because they provide tangible benefits to people,” Wolfe said.
While their list of tasks is long, the interns find the work satisfying and have found the people in the congressman’s office to be extremely helpful.
“On the first day, a member of the campaign staff explained that she did not want to use us only for free labor, but wanted to provide us with an enriching learning experience about political campaigns,” said Wolfe.
Roller echoed this sentiment.
“I am enthusiastic [just] being around people who are just as passionate about politics as I am,” Roller said.
The interns also emphasized how much their Jewell education prepared them for their internship. Both credited the Oxbridge Honors Program for helping them develop their writing skills. Wolfe also mentioned that the tutorial the students took on the subject of democracy helped them understand the complicated process and system of elections.
“Jewell has given me a perspective that I would not otherwise have interning in a Congressional office. I’ve gained insight into the practical application of ideas at the local level,” Roller said.
Both students look at the experience as incredibly rewarding.
“It’s amazing and surprising the sheer amount of hours that are put in to mobilize voters in this state and in this country” said Roller. “It’s one thing learning democratic theory; it’s another to see it in action.”
Wolfe believes the experience goes beyond the title.
“I have already gained much more than a line on my resume,” she said, “I have gained several wonderful professional relationships, greater knowledge of the political system and unique insight into the needs of the community,” said Wolfe.
The students offered advice to those interested in seeking a similar intern experience in the future.
“People notice when you work hard, even at tasks that other people might not take seriously. Find a balance between enjoying what you are doing and actually doing your job well,” Wolfe said.
After graduation, Roller hopes to work for the State Department or the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Wolfe hopes to attend graduate school and become more fluent in Arabic. Long term, she aspires to work in foreign service and possibly enter the political arena as a candidate herself.
“Who knows?” Wolfe said. “Maybe politics, maybe another government job. I’ll be happy doing anything that allows me to use what I’ve learned to improve the world.”