When I first arrived at Ohio State, I experienced a wave of nervousness that I believe is typical of freshmen. That subsided fairly quickly as I met people and got into the swing of classes. I was also worried about balancing my studies with a part-time job, since I did not work through high school. After managing successfully for a couple weeks, I decided to pick up an internship with the Clinton Campaign. It was a wonderful and informative experience, and I will likely at least volunteer with a campaign in the future, but splitting time between classes, work, and an internship was definitely stressful. It was doable, however not something I intend to repeat often. As the year continued, my time management skills also improved, a trend that I hope continues throughout college. Having these different responsibilities added to my self-confidence, because I proved to myself that I was able of handling multiple commitments. Next year, I also hope to become more involved with student organizations, something I probably should have focused more on this year.
I entered college having an extremely specific career goal, which has remained the same. What I was not certain about, though, was exactly how I wanted to format my academic experience. I knew I wanted to major in International Relations & Diplomacy and minor in Spanish and German, but since I took courses at OSU during high school, that would only take me three years. About halfway through this year, I resolved to take four years, adding a degree in Economics.
Overall, I have not noticed any major changes in myself over the year. I have become more independent and even more sure of my overall goals.
During this past semester, Spring 2017, one of the courses I took was German 3101 Texts and Contexts III: Historical Perspective. In addition to practicing complicated German grammar, we spent the class learning the major points of German history from the Middle Ages through the 1800s. For the last week, each student picked a specific theme or object from the time period on which to give a presentation. I chose the Holstentor, and old city gate in Lübeck, Germany, because it is a fascinating piece of architecture, and Lübeck had a unique history as the capital of the Hanseatic League. I had given presentations in German for my previous German classes, but there is still something especially daunting about speaking freely in a language you are not entirely comfortable with. While compiling my presentation, I decided that the PowerPoint would flow much better with only pictures, so I needed to practice my speech more than if I had included bullet points. Of course, the day of my actual presentation, my words did not go exactly as expected, but I was more than satisfied with the result. Although presentations are still slightly nerve-wracking, a certain joy comes with their successful completion.
For about two months, ending on November 8, I interned with Ohio Together, which was the name of the Clinton Campaign in the state. Throughout my life, I have always been fascinated by politics but this was the first time I actually took part in a campaign. When I came to college, I decided that this was the time to finally take action, especially since it was the year of an extremely unusual presidential election. At one of the meetings with College Democrats, I added my name to one of the multitudes of lists, signifying my interest in becoming a Fellow, which is what the national campaign calls its unpaid interns. A few days later, I was contacted by the Clintonville organizer and offered an internship with her, since they needed all the free help they could get.
Throughout my internship, I made hundreds of phone calls, knocked on hundreds of doors, and entered data for hundreds of voters. Much of the time, I felt as if I was not accomplishing much, because people would not answer their phones or just did not want to listen to what I had to say. The reason for making all those calls, though, is that a couple people on each list will be convinced to come volunteer. For every few doors no one opens, there are conversations with excited supporters or people who you can register to vote for the first time.
In general, I am an introverted person. It was slightly terrifying when the first people answered their phones or their doors, because I have trouble talking to the people I do know, much less asking complete strangers for their commitment. Working with the campaign forced me to overcome that fear. I learned that although there will always be people who are rude no matter what you say, there are infinitely more who will wish you luck, even if they disagree with you. I also learned that adults will often ignore you if you look too young to vote, but that is a whole other topic.
Clinton rally at OSU (Photo by Tinae Bluitt for USA TODAY College)
McKenzie Hartman is a first-year student from Columbus, Ohio. She intends to major in International Relations and Diplomacy , while minoring in Spanish and German. McKenzie graduated with honors from Metro Early College High School in 2016. She spent her junior year of high school in Berlin, Germany, attending the Nelson Mandela School, getting to know the culture, and having a wonderful time. She plans to study abroad in a Latin American country during college in order to practice Spanish and experience another part of the world. McKenzie currently works at the Ohio State Barnes & Noble and is starting to be involved with the Collegiate Council on World Affairs and College Democrats. She will be a Fellow with the Clinton campaign this election season. After college, McKenzie hopes to become a Foreign Service Officer with the Department of State. She also enjoys cooking international food, reading, and collecting postcards.
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