Michigan in Washington Student of the Week: Andrew Schaeffler

Hometown: West Bloomfield, MI

Major: Political Science

Minor: Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences

Internship placement: Democratic Attorneys General Association

Why did you decide to do Michigan in Washington?

I decided to do Michigan in Washington to immerse myself in a full time internship, learn
more about working in DC, and meet new people! I had never worked or interned
in Washington, DC before, and being at the center of the political sphere
really intrigued me. Also, I am interested in pursuing a career in political
campaigns, and after working on various campaigns, I thought it would be
interesting to have a position in a more macro level, such as at DAGA, which is
the wing of the Democratic National Committee focused on attorneys general
races. Finally, I was really excited to meet similarly minded people from
throughout the country and who I normally wouldn’t have met in Ann Arbor, as
well as experience all that living in DC has to offer!

What do you do during a typical day at your internship?

I work on the fundraising team for the Democratic Attorneys General Association, so much
of my work revolves around supporting our staff and attorneys general in what
they’re doing. On the attorneys general side of things, I help prepare
briefings and call sheets for events, meetings and calls that the AGs are going
to be raising money for, as well as prospecting new donors or business partners
who can donate to us. I also assist our staff with their day to day needs,
including meetings that they have to provide advice to our AGs and their
campaigns. Finally, I’ve helped with staffing and preparing for “call time,”
which is where one of our attorneys general calls donors on our behalf and asks
them to donate to us. 

What’s something that you’re proud of that you’ve done at your internship so far?

I drafted briefing memos for 10 of our Attorneys General who attended a policy conference
in Las Vegas last week for meetings that they had with some of our business
council members, which provided them background for the meetings and allowed
them to be successful, which was very neat. I also assisted with the planning
of our Las Vegas policy conference, which had over 350 attendees from various
businesses that donate to us, and included policy panels with our attorneys
general, as well as some one-on-one meetings.

How has your skillset evolved or changed since you began working on this internship? Is your internship in person? How do you think it has changed ever since the pandemic began?

I am working in person, which has given me a great ability to revamp some of my
communication skills that I lost throughout COVID and when working virtually,
as well as has allowed me to work in an office environment for the first time
in a few years and socialize, which has been great. Learning how to socialize
professionally post-COVID has taken some time for me, and through this
internship, aside from learning so much more about political campaign finance,
I’ve been able to meet so many great people and relearn how to, for lack of a
better term, interact with people! Since the pandemic, I feel as though I have
become much more responsible in working by myself and without supervision, and
knowing what I need to get done and how much time things will take me, whether
that be on a project for my internship or for a class. I have also become a lot
more outgoing in terms of meeting new people in the office, having never worked
on a campaign or in an office setting that had greater than about 20 people on
it before — however, at DAGA, we have a team of 35, and I have attempted to
meet as many of them as possible, as well as connect with various Michigan
alumni or people that I have known from previous campaigns I’ve worked on who
are now living in Washington, DC. This has allowed me to learn so much about
the world of politics, as well as meet so many different, interesting and
amazing people — which definitely took me out of my comfort zone from being on
Zoom all day!

What advice would you give to a student interested in Michigan in Washington?

I would encourage them to apply for the program, start looking for internships early,
and when they’re here, to make the most of their time.