HATTIESBURG, MS (THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI) – Two University of Southern Mississippi business students with political aspirations have been granted a unique opportunity to get a first-hand look at how the political machinery operates in Washington D.C.
Caroline Randolph, a senior finance and Spanish major, recently completed an internship in U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker's office this summer, while Rachael Crawford, a junior economics and marketing major, will serve a fall internship with U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran. The senior senator from Mississippi, Cochran has served in the U.S. Senate for the past 32 years. Wicker, a fellow Republican, was appointed to the Senate post in 2007, filling a seat vacated by Trent Lott.
Randolph, a Gulfport, Miss., native, said the experience of working so closely with Wicker and his aides "was far above and beyond what I expected." Before joining his team in Washington, Randolph served in Wicker's Gulfport, Miss., office from January through April.
Randolph noted that her responsibilities in Wicker's office include writing policy memos, delivering legislation and related paperwork, handling mailouts to constituents, attending meetings, taking notes and conducting research for pending legislation. She also worked on a couple of personal projects for the senator and saw him at least three times a week.
"I had the opportunity to work on some very interesting legislation and assist staffers with tasks directly related to the (Gulf) oil spill which, of course, is very important to me since I am a native of Gulfport. With an intern badge and a proactive attitude there is not much one is barred from experiencing in the Senate, House and the U.S. Capitol."
Crawford, a Mobile, Ala., native, is taking a full academic load this summer as she prepares for work in Cochran's office this fall. Acutely interested in how the nation's political system works, Crawford said the internship provides an opportunity that simply could not be ignored. "Seeing democracy up close and in action is sure to be an invaluable experience," she said.
After completing her undergraduate requirements, Crawford said she plans to attend law school and possibly pursue a graduate degree in economics. Beyond that, she admits that the idea of a career in politics is appealing.
"I would love the opportunity to serve as a member of the United States Congress," she said. "I realize this is a lofty goal, but I know that if I continue to work hard it will be attainable."
Randolph, who received the Mississippi Young Bankers Leadership Award in 2009, also harbors political aspirations that have been heightened while serving an internship in the nation's capital. "I have always enjoyed public service, especially when I am working on projects which result in tangible, positive change for an entire community in Mississippi," he said.
"To be able to have worked in a senator's office on the state and federal level has left me with a unique experience to interact with the people of Mississippi and to understand how rewarding a career in public service can be."