Internship with state Democrats puts student squarely in political mix

Aisha Navarrete '23 has plenty to do as Election Day nears, whether in an office, on the phone or helping at events

October 27, 2022
By Faith Morgan '23

Aisah Navarrete ’23, right, at a political event with the Democratic candidate for Vermont’s sole seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Becca Balint, recently.

Aisha Navarrete ‘23, an international relations major with an environmental studies minor from Pawlet, VT, is currently working as a campaign intern with the Vermont Democratic Party (VDP).

Navarrete spends her time working on volunteer recruitment, voter connections, and participating in VDP events. Recently, Navarrete attended an event at Four Quarters Brewing in Winooski where Bernie Sanders, Peter Welch, and Becca Balint spoke to the public. At the event, Navarrete spoke to attendees and collected the names of individuals who were interested in volunteering with VDP.

Navarrete said that VDP is always looking for more volunteers to partake in phone banking and canvassing efforts. Canvassing refers to the process of going door to door to speak with residents in the area. This process collects data about voting and encourages individuals to vote. Similarly, phone banking is a process where volunteers use HubDialer, an online call tool that automatically dials numbers and only connects the caller with individuals who have picked up the phone. VDP volunteers partake in phone banking to collect data about how many individuals plan on supporting a Democratic candidate, how an individual plans to vote (by mail, in person, early), and when they plan to vote.

The caller will end the call by asking if the individual is interested in volunteering for VDP. “Recruiting volunteers at all times is so important. Having all hands on deck means you can make more phone calls and reach more people,” said Navarrete.

“Honestly, while phone banking, you tend to get rejected often,” she said. Some individuals are uninterested in having a political conversation, some say that it’s too late in the day for the call, and some ask Navarrete to call them back at a later, more convenient time, she said. “Even with the rejections, phone banking is extremely helpful because we gain a lot of data regarding voting trends and attitudes, which helps us study voting now and in the future.

Navarrete is not limited to only one location for her internship. One might find her canvassing with a group of volunteers in a small Vermont neighborhood. At other times, she might be at home conducting phone banking. When attending in person meetings, Navarrete frequently can be found at the VDP office on Church Street in Burlington.

“The office is really laid back,” she said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect but people wear flannels and jeans in the office, it’s very ‘Vermont-y’ and comfortable.” Navarrete said she enjoys that many of the people with whom she works are only a few years older than her. VDP is pushing to get more youth in the office for advocacy purposes, she said.


Laura Neville

Navarrete first heard about this internship from Laura Neville, career education coach, when she visited the Boucher Career Education Center on campus. “Laura Neville mentioned the internship and I just remember being excited and thinking that it sounded like something I’d really be interested in,” Navarrete said.

During the internship process, Navarrete learned much about self-advocating. “There’s a fine line between communicating and nagging. But often, I would err on the side of being too cautious,” she said. Navarrete encourages students to advocate for themselves and to be communicative with possible employers to convey their enthusiasm for a position or an internship. “Laura Neville really helped me during that time. She encouraged me to not give up or lose hope in the process,” she said.

One piece of advice that Navarrete offers to students applying for internships is to adjust their resume for each job they are applying for. “If I was applying to something concerning the environment, I’d move my environmental experience to the top,” she said.

lower right

Aisha Navarrete, back row left, out with a candidate and other volunteers for campaign activity during her internship.

Alongside her internship, Navarrete is taking the internship practicum course, which offers support and guidance to students throughout their internship experience. On KnightVision Self Service, the course definition states, “Interns focus on integrating theory and practice while developing skills required for success in a business environment. This course is designed for a student’s first internship experience.”

Navarrete said that she loves the internship practicum because she is given a block of time to do multiple things that were already on her to-do list. For example, some requirements in the course are to create and keep up to date a LinkedIn profile, and to go to the Boucher Career Education Center for assistance in one’s resume.

Navarrete is grateful to the Boucher Career Education Center and Saint Michael’s College for nudging her in the direction an internship experience that has benefited her and continues to do so. Soon, Navarrete looks forward to working on Election Day from the time the polls open until the time they close.

“Encouraging people to vote is a really important task and one that I really enjoy doing,” she said.

Follow us on social.