The Octagon

THE SUMMER SCOOP: Senior’s internship doing opposition research helps sway future career goals in politics

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Photo used by permission of Lincoln
Senior Blake Lincoln

This is the first installment of a series on internships, jobs and classes that students are doing this summer.

Senior Blake Lincoln is a paid intern at MB Public Affairs, a company that provides political vulnerability research, expertise on public policy issues and strategic analysis. Lincoln is working at 1415 L St. every Tuesday and Wednesday until school resumes in August.

 

Q: What do you do?

A: I can’t go into a lot of detail of what I do because I signed a nondisclosure agreement, but a lot of it is going to be important in the 2018 midterm elections.

I’m generally helping with projects that need a jump start with information. (Others in the office) type up memos and report on what that information shows. I just help with the web searches and putting the information into documents so others can analyze it and see what they need.

 

Q: How did you get the internship?

A: I heard about it first from Alexa Mathisen, (‘17). She thought I’d really like it. And when the offer came up through Country Day’s internship collection, I contacted MB Public Affairs. I gave them my resume and my activities worksheet, and they emailed me and said, “Yeah, you’re in.”

 

Q: What’s your typical workday like?

A: Most days I get a parking spot right next to the building, but sometimes the parking lot fills up, so I have to drive for a few minutes for a parking spot. It gets really crazy.

Then I walk in, and I start work at 9 a.m. Usually I have lunch between 12 and 2 p.m. – lunch is an hour – and I continue to work until 6 p.m.

 

Q: What is it like in the office?

A: So on my first day, (president of MB Public Affairs Mark Bogetich) set me up with a computer. Now I come in and check with him and see what he wants me to do.

I don’t really talk to anybody. A lot of the people just put in earbuds and work on their projects.

I have a small room that I work in. I don’t get a lot of communication except from (Bogetich) at the office.

 

Q: Do you like the work?

A: While I like politics, I’m finding that I maybe don’t want to do opposition research. I might want to do other stuff within the political field.

 

Q: What is opposition research?

A: It’s finding information and data on your opponent in a campaign that could be used to discredit and attack them.

 

Q: Is it hard work?

A: It’s not hard work as in it’s not impossible to do. It just gets so repetitive, like punching in numbers and looking tirelessly through web searches trying to find stuff.

The work does get hard (to do) because you need to find enough energy to get through the day.

 

Q: Have you made any “first-time working” mistakes?

A: I accidentally slept in one morning, so I got ready real quick and left at 8:30 a.m. And when I got to the parking lot, this was the first time it was filled up, and I didn’t know where to park. So I literally spent half an hour all through downtown trying to find a parking spot.

I tried to go into a state government employee parking lot but didn’t realize it was for employees only, which was really embarrassing because everyone else was trying to get in.

I finally found a parking spot, and I’m running all through downtown trying to get to the office because I was late. I showed up at the office at 9:20 a.m., and I ran into Mark’s office and said, “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. There was no parking. I’ll stay late.”

And he just looked at me and looked at the clock on his computer and said, “I didn’t even know you were late.”

 

Q: Has this internship influenced your future career goals?

A: The path I want to take right now is either elected office or chief-of-staff or legislative assistant.

The things that MB Public Affairs focuses more on is opposition research and gathering information, and I’m not liking that very much. I want to focus more on getting legislation through as a candidate or as an assistant helping an elected official.

So I’m learning a lot, and that’s really good. But I’m also learning what I like and what I don’t like about the field.

—By Allison Zhang

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