An important lesson I have learned this summer is to always stay in contact with people! This past week I took a break from my internship at FWV to intern as a conference staff member at the 45th annual Conference on National Affairs, known as CONA for short. The conference is for the brightest debate and mock legislature high school students across the country. I participated in this program while in high school as one of the top-25 North Carolina delegates. Throughout the past two years, I have stayed in contact with the program’s directors. In March, I was asked to return to the program as a conference staff member–a huge honor! It really pays off to keep relationships strong with the people you meet throughout your life as you will never know when an opportunity will come from someone you met two years ago. As a staff member, I was responsible for assisting students with intensive research on national and international concerns.
At CONA, students draft proposals to solve these concerns and debate them until they reach a final round known as plenary session. I worked with students on preparing their speeches and finding points of interest that may arise in debate. In addition to my tasks as a research assistant, I was also in charge of running an ice cream snack shop for conference attendees–which was fun, but very messy. Some of my other tasks included assisting with proposal runs, or bringing documents to and from different committees and sitting in on committee sessions as a supervisor.
I really enjoyed the experience, and my favorite part was working with other volunteer staff members. I worked alongside amazing college students from some of the top schools in the country like George Washington, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame and University of Alabama. I networked with many professionals as well. I had the pleasure of meeting a recent Yale School of Law graduate who offered to help me with securing my future career goals. I also met a Vice President of a D.C. based PR firm who gave me insight on what it is like to work in the press offices of political heavyweights. These people were more than willing to offer advice and guidance on what life is like when you leave college. So in return, here’s my advice to you incoming HPU freshman - stay in touch with your mentors from high school! Be it a sports coach or teacher, these people believe in your future and may be able to set you up with opportunities in the future.