Robin Quattlebaum, is a senior INTA major that has been involved since her freshman year in several campus organizations, including freShGA, the Student Foundation, and the Georgia Tech Research Institute. We asked her a few questions about her internship with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office in spring 2009, and how her time at Tech helped her succeed in her internship.
What did you enjoy most about your internship and what did you find most challenging?
I was able to accompany Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel on several events and speaking engagements and got to know her on a personal level. I really felt like a part of the team and was entrusted with important tasks such as helping the Secretary prepare for a tour of the Middle East by researching the customs and protocol. I interacted with visiting dignitaries, State Senators and Congressmen as well as US Senators and Congressmen and on occasion, Governor Perdue.
The most challenging, yet most interesting part of the internship was engaging with the citizens of Georgia and trying to solve their concerns. These concerns ranged from questions about corporations or licensing, to giving directions around the Capitol. This experience really taught me about what is involved in representing a highly visible State Official which included a lot about how to speak and handle situations professionally, tactfully and efficiently.
Tell us about an experience that made an impression on you during your internship.
I helped brief and then accompanied the Secretary of State to a very solemn event commemorating the Holocaust. Several very influential people spoke, including the Secretary. It was a lesson in communicating sincerely and reverently, as she handled questions and discussions during the event. This experience really showed me how to handle important situations and how to think quickly while still maintaining a professional demeanor.
In what ways did your time at Tech prepare you for the internship?
My International Affairs classes have given me a great background in the workings of our government at different levels and in other countries. I used my broad awareness of current events in discussions with citizens on a daily basis. It was gratifying to be able to apply what I have learned in class, to the real world setting of both the Secretary of State’s Office and the Canadian Consulate, where I am currently interning this summer.
I also used the research and writing skills that I have developed here at Tech for preparing letters and briefings. The rigor of course work, in addition to my involvement with campus organizations at Tech also helped prepare me to juggle many tasks at once and handle a great deal of responsibility. My campus involvement also provides an outstanding opportunity to work closely with others in a group setting towards a common goal. Those experiences carried over into my internship vastly helping my ability to work as a team. Georgia Tech really offers you numerous opportunities to learn how to handle a heavy workload and prioritize tasks which I applied during my internship.