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Photos: Holy Cross Students Spend Winter Break Interning at Presidential Campaigns

From classroom to canvassing, Holy Cross students made their time off count
January 30th, 2020 by 

A student walks out of a political campaign office
Caroline Manganaro '23 walks out of the Pete Buttigieg campaign office. Photo by Avanell Brock

While many Holy Cross students spent winter break on … well, break … some students used the weeks between semesters to pursue their passions. On campus, a number of students attended the four-day Non-Profit Careers Conference; in New York City and Boston, other students took part in career workshops and worksite visits — sponsored by both the Center for Career Development and the Ciocca Center for Business, Ethics and Society — to get a feel for post-grad life. Further north, eleven students decamped to Manchester, New Hampshire, to intern on presidential election campaigns through a program run by the J.D. Power Center for Liberal Arts in the World. Students lived in the city for nearly a month, working daily on a number of different campaigns and taking a course, The Primary Process in America, taught by Daniel Klinghard, professor of political science and director of the J.D. Power Center.

“At the J.D. Power Center, we’ve been looking at ways to provide experiential learning opportunities to students outside of the regular semester model,” says Klinghard. “As someone who studies political parties in my academic career, I’ve always been fascinated by the New Hampshire primary, and I have always wanted to figure out a way to better connect our students to this amazing event that happens just to our north. So for me, it made sense to combine these two things.”

What was it like to live and breathe a campaign? We tagged along for a day and talked shop with two students — Johanna Mackin ’20, a political science major with a self-designed minor in migration studies and a concentration in Latin American, Latinx and Caribbean studies, and Caroline Manganaro ’23, a first-year student with interests in English and psychology — as they interned at the Pete Buttigieg campaign.

7:30 a.m.

 Students sit around a table in a hotel conference room

Holy Cross students attend Daniel Klinghard’s course, The Primary Process in America. Photo by Avanell Brock

Johanna: We have class in the mornings from 7:30 to 9:30 or 8:00 to 10:00, depending on the day.
Caroline: The class is very discussion based. The night before, we have a lot of reading, and we usually split it up among ourselves. We learn about the history of elections and results of past elections, but we also spend time talking about how the readings relate to what’s happening right now. Every day, new news comes out — such as “so-and-so dropped out” — and the class feels relevant.

10:00 a.m.

 Two students stand in a campaign office, working with a clipboard and a computer

Caroline Manganaro ’23 and Johanna Mackin ’20 work in the Pete Buttigieg campaign office. Photo by Avanell Brock

Johanna: After class, Caroline and I head into the Pete Buttigieg office, which is fortunately only two blocks away from the hotel we’re living in for the month. Every morning, we sit with “the Pete crew” — regional leaders working on the campaign — for their morning meetings. They run through what events are coming up and what we’re focusing on that day. Some days it’s all about recruitment, sometimes it’s about phone banking and sometimes it’s making the office look presentable for when people visit.
Caroline: Although we obviously spend our morning planning how to help Pete, we’ve had the chance to meet a handful of candidates. We’ve heard many different sides of an issue.

11:15 a.m.-1:15 p.m.

 Two students stand on opposite sides of a door, pretending to canvass

Johanna Mackin ’20 and Caroline Manganaro ’23 show an example of canvassing to new volunteers. Photo by Avanell Brock

Caroline: If there are new volunteers in the office, we’ll help train them. Today, eight students from other colleges came into the office to volunteer.
Johanna: We teach how to get people to go out and say, “Work with us,” “Join the movement,” those kinds of things.

1:15-3:30 p.m.

 Two students knock on a house's door

Caroline Manganaro ’23 and Johanna Mackin ’20 knock on doors in Manchester. Photo by Avanell Brock

Johanna: We hope they’re home. Sometimes they are; sometimes they aren’t. If they answer, we give our little spiel and try to figure out where they are in the process of choosing a candidate.
Caroline: I’ve been learning a lot of personal skills, because all we do all day is talk to people. Usually in a first-year internship, you’re filing papers or something, but we do a lot of talking.

4:00-9:00 p.m.

 Two students walk down a street in a neighborhood

Caroline Manganaro ’23 and Johanna Mackin ’20 walk down the streets of Manchester, New Hampshire. Photo by Avanell Brock

Johanna: After canvassing, we go back to the office. We normally have an evening event with supporters. Tonight, we have a debate watch party; other nights, we’ve had different community events to get people engaged with the campaign and motivated to help out.
Caroline: We’ve been able to see what a volunteer does, but we’ve also seen what our supervisors do. And we’re also reading the news, talking to the media, and studying the psychology and the money aspect of it — everything. Through this internship, we learn every single side of the campaign.
Johanna: The first time I knocked on a door and somebody answered and heard me out, I felt so powerful because I was like, “I am changing democracy. This is super cool.”

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