When I joined the Convention of States Internship, I was merely looking for the chance to learn a few new skills and expand my networking abilities. For someone who had long wanted to pursue a career in politics, this seemed like the perfect opportunity for me, but I never could’ve imagined all that I would receive from this internship.
Yes, I gained many new skills that will certainly help me in my future career. We all did. But we also gained something far more important.
What made the 2020-2021 Emerging Leaders Program totally unlike any other internship was the emphasis intentionally placed on relationships. From my very first interview to our last intern meeting, I always knew that COS deeply cared about me. From our intern coordinator, Andrew Woodruff, to the Convention of States President and CEO, Mark Meckler, everyone at COS believed that my five fellow interns and I possessed great potential for becoming future leaders, and they were selflessly committed to helping us realize that potential.
“We’re all about building relationships,” said Andrew. “All the interns get an opportunity to build lifelong relationships with their fellow interns, [and] also with the national team.”
And these relationships were far more than just typical work relationships; these were relationships with like-minded patriots who wanted to invest into us. These were relationships that helped us grow professionally, personally and even spiritually.
“Being part of a select group of exceptional young leaders taught me to be more comfortable in my own skin, speak openly (free of judgement), work out of my comfort zone, and achieve personal goals previously believed to be impossible,” said Michaela Mertz, the Media Marketing Intern. “This internship gave me a new family, a better understanding of myself and my faith, and the tools to take my career to the next level.”
Whenever any of us needed advice, prayer, or just someone to talk to, we knew we could depend on our COS family to be there for us. We all were deeply impacted by it.
“I would describe the internship as life-changing,” explained the Regional Director’s Intern, Amanda Carlson. “What makes it unique is how much the people who are in charge pour into you. I’ve never experienced better leadership in any other organization. It really models a sustainable way to lead your communities, that will change forever how I serve other people.”
Servant Leadership, as we call it, really is the defining characteristic of the Emerging Leaders Program. At the start of the internship, we were blessed to go through a course, led by Ginny Rapini, on David Kuhnert’s powerful book about Servant Leadership. I personally know that God used these lessons to help me grow in my faith and understanding of what it means to be a servant, and I am sure that the same is true for the others who went through this course.
But what really made the course so impactful weren’t the lessons themselves, but the leaders within COS who modeled Servant Leadership for us. They didn’t just talk about it. They lived it. By modeling Christ-like love, humility and self-governance, they showed us firsthand what it means to serve others.
In short, COS taught us how to preserve America. Calling an Article V Convention of States is undoubtedly an important part of that, but it really begins with reteaching self-governance and Servant Leadership to the American people.
Now, at the conclusion of this extraordinary internship, I feel more prepared to serve my country - through politics - than ever before. I’ve received experience, skills and connections that will be incalculably valuable to my future career. And I’m not the only one. No matter what careers we pursue, we each will benefit tremendously from our time interning for COS.
The Emerging Leaders 2020-2021 Internship truly was far more than just something we’ll put on our résumés; it was a life-changing experience with ripple effects that could very well impact the entire country for generations to come.
Jake Fay was an intern with the Convention of States Project. You can learn more about the Emerging Leaders Program by clicking here.