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Former Center Intern Reflects on His Time at the Center

Colin C. Allen, Former Center for Politics Intern

I was first exposed to the Center for Politics as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia. The Center was hosting an event on political comedy, and I had a number of friends who either interned or worked at the Center and a professor who was participating on the panel discussion. The Center was well known for developing novel approaches to reach diverse audiences, and this particular combination of politics and humor caught my interest.

After this event and several others, I had the opportunity to take a class with Professor Larry Sabato on Virginia politics; I immediately became hooked on politics and the Center’s academic mission. After taking Mr. Sabato’s class, I was accepted into the Center’s Internship Program, and through participation in the Center’s research and projects I was able to extend my interest in Virginia and national politics from the classroom to the real world.

As an intern at the Center I worked on a variety of projects, focusing mainly on the Virginia Governors Conference, which examined the governorship of Gerald Baliles. I also conducted original research on Professor Sabato’s Virginia Votes series. Both assignments allowed me to interact with people involved in the political process in Virginia; from officeholders and candidates to reporters and political advisors, I was able to communicate with these insiders to gather information for the conference and book series.

After graduating, my experience at the Center and as a student of politics translated into a full-time position as Special Assistant to the Director of the Center, Professor Sabato. This position allowed me to further my knowledge of the political and legislative processes and to interact on a higher level with academics and elected policy makers.

Not content to sit still for too long, I then moved from the academic sphere of politics and into the practical realm as a political practitioner on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. While rewarding, I will note that it was much more relaxing to watch and analyze than it is to assist in the legislative process. The research and analytic skills I learned both at the University and the Center for Politics have been put to the test and I feel that I have been well served by the time I spent at the Center. From my time on the University’s Grounds to being inside the beltway, I can still see true the Center’s motto: Politics is a Good Thing!