Name: Konrat Pekkip
Hometown: Heidelberg, Germany
Major: Political Science and International Studies with a minor in History
Internship placement: Seasonal Associate at 270 Strategies
Why did you decide to do Michigan in Washington?
When I applied to the University of Michigan back in 2015, I wrote about this program in my application essay, citing it as a unique opportunity for young foreign nationals to gain work experience in the political center of the world. Ultimately, the program was one of the reasons I chose to come to Ann Arbor all the way from Germany, and so far it has been more than worth it. A major selling point for me was Professor Goldstein’s research class, which allows me to further refine my research skills before conducting my own research over the summer and writing my senior honors thesis next year.
What do you do during a typical day at your internship?
270 Strategies is a political consulting firm that focuses on building grassroots campaigns for progressive politicians and advocacy groups who want to make a change in America and the world. As a seasonal associate, I get to work closely with our clients to translate their big ideas into specific campaign plans by analyzing relevant data, writing reports and attending weekly meetings with them. Being able to work directly with renowned campaign managers from the Obama and Clinton presidential campaigns is inspiring and I’m trying to take in as much wisdom as I can.
Which elective are you taking and what’s the most interesting part of the class?
I am taking Professor Menna Demessie’s class on Political Advocacy and Public Opinion in a Digital Age, where I have so far learned a great deal about effective political messaging. Due to Professor Demessie’s unconventional approach to teaching, we have been able to analyze politicians’ messaging strategies in real time while simultaneously improving our own political communication skills by giving impromptu speeches and presentations. I constantly find myself applying the things I learn in class to the work I do at my internship, which is a pretty unique element compared to other classes I have taken in the past.
What do you like to do in D.C. during your free time?
D.C. has a very distinct culture. I have gone to lots of museums and art galleries, but also restaurants and bars, all of which had a unique feel to them that you definitely would not find in Ann Arbor. Another thing you find in D.C. that you wouldn’t in Ann Arbor is moderate climate, and now, with spring being around the corner, I’m looking forward to capitalizing on that and forcing my friends to take at least 100 portrait-mode pictures of me bathing myself in the famous cherry blossoms all around the city.
What’s something on your D.C. bucket list?
One of the things I really want to do is go on a Capitol tour. A few weeks ago, some of us toured the White House, but especially under the current administration, I would much rather see the House of Representatives where there are true leaders. Since some of my closest friends here work on the Hill, I think it would be cool to get an insider’s view on how Washington politics really work.
What advice would you give to a student interested in Michigan in Washington?
The Michigan in Washington program has been a very rewarding time for me. I got to experience things I never dreamt of doing and forge connections with people that will have a lasting impact on my life. Who knows, maybe by the end of it I will even have figured out what I want to be doing with my life? Most importantly, I learned what it is like to work for a company that truly values you not only for your work, but for who you are as a person. My advice to anyone interested in this program would be to pay close attention to how potential employers treat you as an applicant, as it most likely mirrors how they will treat you as their employee.