Drake University prides itself on the pre-professional development that the University supplies for its students. But sometimes the vast array of opportunities for internships and professional experiences becomes overbearing. This features series serves to highlight students at Drake, particularly within the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC), who have explored pre-professional options and provide insight into what these experiences look like.
Tia Beenblossom, a junior double-majoring in public relations and strategic political communications with a minor in politics, is a very busy woman. Only she isn’t the kind of busy that has her hustling and bustling around campus. Rather, she is spending her days, up to 32 hours a week, at the Iowa State House of Representatives.
Beenblossom is a legislative clerk for Rep. Kenan Judge. She said that in her role, every day varies, but she always performs secretarial tasks like getting his mail, answering emails and doing constituent work.
“I’ve learned a lot about the importance of constituent work,” Beenblossom said. “ I don’t think that you realize how much the legislature does and how much each individual representative does for their constituents. I have personally gone to different constituent meetings with my representative. I have seen how a combination of the constituent advocating for themselves and my representative listening and doing that kind of interaction with their constituent impacts the process and impacts the decisions he makes.”
Beenblossom identifies the constituent work that she has witnessed at the Iowa State Capitol as the greatest takeaway from her internship. Beyond that, Beenblossom has also noticed how certain misconceptions about the Iowa Legislature are challenged by her daily routine.
“I think everyone has the conception that politics is very ‘go go go,’ that everyone is there all at once, it has a very certain mechanism to it and it’s very organized and methodical,” Beenblossom said. “I think that what they don’t recognize is that not everything is as methodical as you think it is or that there aren’t processes to everything. It gets very chaotic and very unorganized very quickly, and I think that’s something that the general public just doesn’t see because they don’t see the day-to-day.”
Beenblossom is challenged by how caught up legislators get in their various tasks. She said that sometimes individual representatives are very busy and it can be difficult to track down Rep. Judge to get him to his next meeting or to ask him a question. She said that she has become very good at multitasking and being able to bounce from one task to another.
Working at the capitol is not the only pre-professional opportunity that Beenblossom has had. Among others, Beenblossom said that she was a field office intern for the Cory Booker campaign in 2019 for the 2020 presidential election. Ultimately, clerking has assisted her in moving towards her occupational goals due to the firsthand experience that it has provided her with.
“For me specifically, I know that my goal is to end up doing communications,” Beenblossom said. “Specifically, I have looked at doing campaign communications and also government communications, working in the Democratic staff caucus office, and doing communications that way. Those have been the two avenues that I have really focused on and put a lot of thought into, but I will say that as I have progressed as an SJMC student and through clerking your eyes get opened up to other career paths.”
Beenblossom has enjoyed the link that her internship provides with her coursework as an SJMC student as it allows her to take learnings and concepts that were once “theories” and gives her a chance to apply them in practice. She revealed that communications has always been her forte and therefore determined her career path.
“I’m a people person, and I am gifted in communications,” Beenblossom said. “I am good at talking to people and I have always been that way. I was nicknamed Chatty Kathy #1 in elementary school, so I think that communication and interacting with people has always been something that I love. But I think that going through my SJMC coursework and the professional experiences that I have had have allowed me to realize that I can take that passion and turn it into something that is my profession.”