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Internship Spotlight – Rachel Smith ’20

student posing with cory booker
Rachel Smith (center)

Name: Rachel Smith

Majors: Communication Studies and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

Track: Public and Mass

Graduation Year: Spring 2020

On-campus Involvement:

  • Student Government: Vice President of Community Relations (Former Senator)

    • Governance: Social Justice Task Force (09/18-present)
    • (Former): D&I Committee and Committee on Student and Campus Community
  • The Women’s Center: President (09/17-present)
  • Women in Learning and Leadership: Vice Executive Chair (Former Programming Chair) (01/17-present)
  • The Signal: Opinions Section Contributing Writer (01/17, 09/17, 3/18)
  • Omicron Delta Kappa: National Leadership Honor Society
  • Iota Iota Iota: Women’s, Gender, Sexuality Studies Honor Society
  • Lambda Pi Eta: National Communication Association
  • Women in Learning and Leadership: certificate-bearing co-curricular organization
  • Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Academic Excellence: Alice Paul Award for Activism 2018

When and Where did you Intern: Planned Parenthood Action Fund of New Jersey — Public Affairs Intern (Summer 2018)

What drew you to the Communication Studies department and major?

When I was in high school, I was editor-in-chief of the school’s paper, The Roxbury Review. The leadership position allotted me access to creating change and communicate issues to the student body. This made me realize my passion in informing and empowering others, and Communication Studies seemed the obvious route for equipping myself to communicate my passions with others.

Describe your internship and your role.

As a Public Affairs Intern, I assisted Planned Parenthood in legislative, communication, and field endeavors to promote advocacy efforts and community organizing. I also met with legislative representatives, planned and attended rallies and events, and created social media posts and press releases for organizational use.

What was your best memory at your internship?

In addition to working alongside individuals passionate about the same issues as myself, my favorite memory was meeting Senator Cory Booker at a press conference regarding the supreme court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. My favorite experiences were seeing our field work efforts come to fruition.

What is one skill you have improved upon while at your internship?

In my internship with Planned Parenthood, I learned how to advocate for causes I cared deeply for in a way that was more organized, strategic, and effective. I used to go on and on about my passions, but now I’m more precise about how to communicate issues to certain audiences.

How did the Communication Studies Department prepare you for your internship?

My internship in Public Affairs was split among three branches of Legislative work, Communications, and Field work. My communication background helped me better understand how different theories affect these different, but equally impactful, areas of public affairs.

What are your career goals and how did your internship align with your goals?

I would like to go onto law school, work in nonprofits, and run for office one day. My internship in an advocacy role allowed me to put theory into practice and apply all that I’ve learned in my academic fields.

Do you have any advice for students applying for internships?

Follow your passions. Especially within the Communication Studies major, we are told opposing things about the application of our studies from others. I truly believe that all classes I’ve taken have given me a perspective on people, communication, and culture. It helped me relate to individuals similar and different to myself, and it pushed me to alter my behaviors to be receptive to different audiences. If you make the most out of your major and the opportunities the department presents to you, all that is left to do is let your experience and application of studies speak for itself.