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Knoebel Takes on Washington, D.C.

Rachel Knoebel stands outside the gate to the White House

Rachel Knoebel is a junior public relations major from Florence, Kentucky, and spent her spring semester in Senator Rand Paul’s Office in Washington, D.C., as well as the summer at the White House in the Office of Presidential Correspondence. She plans to move to Washington, D.C., after graduation and pursue a career in political communication. Rachel shared her first-person view of interning in our nation’s capital.

While walking through the halls of the United States Capitol, as well as the halls of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, I was constantly reminded of the incredible history of our nation and the people who shaped it. At the same time, it was hard to imagine how many of our country’s most influential leaders walked these same long, narrow halls, as well as how many of the people I was passing in the halls were shaping not only my future, but the future of my country.
In the eight months I spent in D.C., I learned the ins and outs of our government, met and listened to some of the most prominent leaders of our nation, watched an inauguration ceremony, volunteered at a State Ball and several White House events, and all the while attempted to adjust to a very different lifestyle living in a big city.

During the spring semester, I had the privilege and honor to intern with Senator Rand Paul. But, unlike any normal Senate internship, I had a very special opportunity to be in D.C. during an interesting and remarkable time that only happens every four years. During the transition period of the new administration, it was incredible to see the inner workings of the Senate. My five months with Senator Paul were spent learning how the legislative branch functions, working with constituents, and enhancing my knowledge of the daily operations of the government. I also had the opportunity to read a book series that Senator Paul chose for his interns and to discuss these very same topics personally with Senator Paul.

After five months in the Senator‘s office, I wasn’t ready to leave D.C., so I applied for a summer internship at the White House. My summer consisted of attending a Speaker Series involving several members of the President‘s staff, advisers, and Cabinet members; volunteering at White House events, including the Congressional Picnic and the Fourth of July Military Appreciation Picnic; taking a behind the scenes tour of the Supreme Court; and attending the Congressional Baseball Game just days after the tragic shooting in Virginia. Few people have this opportunity, and it was an honor and privilege to be part of President Trump’s inaugural internship class.

My time in D.C. helped further my education in public relations by exemplifying the importance of how to communicate effectively and efficiently. I watched as various Members of Congress reached out to their districts and constituents and attempted to create a positive communication relationship. As part of my intern responsibilities, I was able to actually participate in using media to communicate with constituents. These lessons transferred over to my time as a White House Intern, as I watched both President Trump and Vice President Pence speak to groups of military families and Members of Congress. Overall, it was an incredible learning experience, full of useful knowledge and take aways to further my experience in the field of public relations.

For eight months, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. My one piece of advice to anyone looking to study abroad or to a semester away from campus is to not hesitate for a minute. The best decision I made was to step out of my comfort zone and gain valuable life and professional lessons. Living and working in D.C will forever be a memory I will cherish, and I am thankful to everyone who played a role in the process.

Published on December 15, 2017

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