Grady Intern Diaries: Austin Gibbons

Grady Intern Diaries: Austin Gibbons

July 29, 2019

This is part of a series where we ask Grady College students to describe their summer internship experience.

Grady College: Briefly describe your internship and responsibilities.
AG: I worked in two internships this summer. The first was as a Government Relations Intern with the American Red Cross. I engaged in social media monitoring and legislative outreach for the Red Cross’ strategic priorities. I also edited briefing materials for senior leadership meetings. My second internship was as Press and Scheduling Intern for The Office of U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson. There, I assisted the communications director with interviews and photography. I also compiled daily press clips and processed scheduling requests from constituents seeking to meet with Senator Isakson.

Grady: What was your favorite part about your summer internship?
AG:The value of Delta Hall for students living in D.C. cannot be overstated, and I honestly believe the location is my favorite part of the summer. The staff of Senator Isakson and the Red Cross certainly have helped me grow professionally, but I have grown just as much building relationships with other UGA students and UGA alumni who are living and working all over this city. Being this close to museums, historical sites and rooftop restaurants means that not only are my work days filled with unique experiences, but so are my weeknights and weekends.

Grady: What is the most memorable experience you had during your internship?
AG:I have to pick two. At the Red Cross, I met with the senior vice president every morning to talk way more about life than work. Even though I was only there two weeks, these morning meetings are embedded into my memory because she always asked about what I was learning and how I was growing. In Senator Isakson’s office, I have had the privilege to sit in on several media interviews. Whether Isakson was discussing policy, reminiscing on the Apollo 11 moon landing, or giving personal and professional advice, I have come to know him as an insightful, charismatic and brilliant lawmaker. He is the best boss I could ask for on The Hill.

Grady: What is the most valuable lesson or skill you learned during your internship?
AG:Beside my desk in Senator Isakson’s office, there is a TV that always has a live stream of proceedings on the Senate floor. When I am not working on press clips or scheduling requests, I’ll watch the live stream to see what votes are being cast and what conversations are happening. Many will acknowledge that we live in a divisive time politically, and elements of this can certainly be seen in Washington. However, I have loved watching the Senate floor proceedings on my TV, roaming the halls of the Capitol and going to after-work socials where you see what many Americans don’t see. Republican lawmakers, Democratic lawmakers and congressional staffers share more similarities than they do differences, and this is evident as you watch them socializing as friends and as colleagues. Moving forward, I hope we can all see the return of this bipartisan friendship in our homes, our churches, our schools and our friend groups in the near future.

Grady: What part of your Grady education did you find most valuable during your internship?
AG:Whether it is Tom Cullen’s AP Style quizzes or Kristen Smith’s graphic design class, Grady professors have always urged me to cross every t, dot every I and pay attention to every detail. Coming into this summer, I have seen these same traits in both of my employers who have poured into me, invested in me and required me to be detail oriented.

Grady: How did your internship help confirm your desired career path or make you re-evaluate what you want to do in the future?
AG:My internships definitely validated my desired career path into public affairs, and I liked different aspects of each. Building relationships with congressional staff, engaging in outreach and advocating for a worthy, bipartisan cause during my time at the Red Cross has shown me the value of government relations and lobbying as a unique form of relationship building. Meanwhile, my press and scheduling internship with Senator Isakson has shown me more about the legislative process, how to manage a senator’s time and how to stay constantly in the loop about what is happening in the news. These are valuable experiences that I will carry with me as I continue to discern what aspect of public affairs is right for me.

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