Internship at State Governor's Office Yields Perspective

This is the second in a series about student internships at Asbury University. To read the first installment, about Leslie Ferrell '14, click here.

Taking full advantage her academic grounding as a political science major, Asbury University junior Bethany Wallace signed on for an internship with the Kentucky Governor’s Office this past fall. Through this internship, she added experience to her classroom knowledge, developed her time-management skills and gained insight into professional interactions.

Junior Bethany Wallace (center), with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear
Junior Bethany Wallace (center), with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear

Wallace began her internship last July, working in the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy, and continued to work two days per week during the fall semester in the Legislative Affairs Department. Her responsibilities include answering questions from constituents about legislation and preparing for the upcoming legislative session by organizing proposals from various government departments.

Even though there are aspects of government work that have to be learned by experience, Wallace says her political science classes provided her with a good foundation for her internship in the Governor’s Office.

“You have to know the basics about how government works. I’ve definitely learned a lot, even from PS 101, on the basics of politics. I feel like I was definitely prepared for this internship.”

Wallace especially appreciates how her professors encourage students to defend their views with tact and precision.

“The discussion in class has prepared me for being in real-world politics,” she said. “You don’t just learn to say, ‘Well, that’s wrong,’ or, ‘this is right.’ You learn to say, ‘What if you thought about it this way?’ You approach different issues from different perspectives and weigh your options.”

As she has expanded on her classroom learning, Wallace has also used her internship to develop planning and time management skills.

“I was gone Mondays and Wednesdays all day, which didn’t leave a lot of time for homework, but that’s definitely the real-world experience, and I’m grateful for it,” she said. “The biggest thing I learned through the internship is how to set priorities. I had a lot to do this semester, but it definitely taught me how to manage my time well, focus on what’s important and be goal-oriented.”

A more important lesson than time management, though, has been relationship building. Wallace saw first-hand the necessity of good relationships for professional interaction.

“It’s crazy how so much of the job that I do as an intern, and that my supervisors do in the legislative office, is just relating to people and knowing how to treat people with respect,” she said. “A lot of their job is negotiating between what the Governor wants and what the legislators want, and it really is about relationships. I think you could say most jobs are.”

Treating others with respect becomes even more crucial when opinions differ. As an intern in a government office, Wallace has encountered a wide range of viewpoints which challenge her to keep an open mind and a gracious attitude.

“My personal values do not always align, necessarily, with the people I work with,” she said. “But as a Christian, that doesn’t mean you alienate yourself from people who oppose your view. I’ve learned a lot more about the other side of things than I ever would have just working with people who share my views. I’ve learned that there’s a lot more common ground than people think.  As Christians we have to stick with our core values and absolutes, but be open to discussion, and keep an open mind and treat people with respect.”

--by Joel Sams '15

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