#AlumniSpotlight is a new feature where we catch up with former program participants to find out what they’re doing now and what advice they have to offer.
Rachel Wells is an Account Executive at Melwood Global, where she works on a national rebranding and messaging campaign, as well as contributes to her firm’s communications services including strategic planning, messaging, and execution. She also researches and advises clients on policy issues relating to their field.
Rachel interned with the Washington Internship Institute in the spring of 2016 at the US Association of Former Members of Congress, where she says she learned to value her experience as an intern as what it is—work.
“In my mind, it isn’t a big leap [from intern to campaign manager] when you view the internship experience as working experience.”
When she was applying for jobs after finishing a campaign, one interviewer asked her about her big leap from intern to campaign manager and how she could explain it. She was startled by the question and ultimately didn’t have the best answer.
“Thinking back,” she says, “I should have said, ‘My work as an intern gave me the diverse background and skill set I have today. My internship taught me how to plan fundraising events, work with elected officials and organize speaking events, things I did every day on the campaign. In my mind, it isn’t a big leap when you view the internship experience as working experience.’ One of the professors at WII told us that and it is something I try to remind myself every day as a young professional.”
Looking back, she would tell her younger self at the start of the program to keep contacts with everyone she meets in Washington. “The political world is a lot smaller than you think,” she says, “and you never know when or how someone you met over three years ago could help you in the future.”