Woman on the Move Interview with Heather Bettina Purcell (20) US Congressional Intern and Political Science Major at Sonoma State University
Heather Purcell (right) & Friend
Tell us about how you chose your career/business and what your responsibilities include?
Coming into college I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Through the love of my GE level political science class I have learned that the study of politics is what I love more than anything. I was hesitant about the field and I decided quickly I needed to get a jump start in my career field. I researched every single California member of Congress and sent the office what they requested in an intern. Cover letters, resumes, letters of recommendation and writting samples later I had landed a summer internship on Capitol Hills for Californias 44th distrcit Congressman, the Honorable Ken Calvert.
As a United State Congressional Intern I have many opportunities in the field I have been lucky enough to take full advantage. My daily tasks are not as glamorous as one might imagine them to be, however they are necessary steps for me to grow. I love learing and seeing how Congress operates first-hand. An intern provides basic assistance to the staff by opening and directing mail, answering and directing telephone inquiries and running errands I also give US Capitol tours, attend legislative briefings, complete research, and assisting with constituent service. I have also learned about my own personal believes instead of conforming to the mold of my office.
Though my career is just beginning I am confident in myself I have what it takes to not only thrive in the political realm but to grow and transform. Whats up next for me is a job on Assembly woman Joan Buchanan’s campaign for congress in mid August for a special congressional replacement electon!
What are some of the most fulfilling projects you have been involved with so far?
Prior to college and interning in Washington DC I was a summer camp counselor for St. Isidores for four straight years and then a lead counselor for three. This was a very rewarding experience that made me realize my love for working with children and education which is an area in which I would love to learn more about. At Congressman Calverts DC office giving congressional tours is one of the most fulfilling things I have done here, I love meeting people and connecting with them especially those who know their history and have the upmost respect for what is around them. It is an incredible feeling giving someone a once in a lifetime experience to see their nations great capitol.
Are there any people in your field you would like to meet and/or work with and have not yet had the opportunity?
There are so many people I have yet to meet and other fields within political science I have yet to pursue! There are to many politicians to count that I admire and would be so grateful to join their team and learn from in the future. I would love the opportunity to get involved in political print or broadcast journalism, I have always loved voicing my opinion andresearching to inform others.
What are some of your favorite ways to network?
As a third year college student my studies come first, however I look at every opportunity as an opportunity to network. I constantly am scanning for opportunities to get more involved in my field and take advantage of connections I can make. I’m a pretty outgoing person and I rarely am shy. I believe that relationships one establishes will later down in the road benefitboth parties.
Do you have a mentor – if so how did you choose one another?
I have the most incredible life mentor, her name is Brianne Radcliff and she is my “big sister” in my sorority, Alpha Delta Pi. She is one of the most incredible individuals I have encountered in my life and without her I would never have been able to maintain my spirit and strength that I have today. It is rare to meet a person who always motivates you and knows you can achieve anything, as cliche as that sounds she is my idol and I strive to make her proud.
In terms of a career mentor I am still searching, from the past I admire politicians such as Ronald Reagan and adventurers like Amelia Airheart. However I believe that the best mentor one can have is within themselves, from my own personal experiences I know that learning from mistakes is one of the best things you can do for your career.No one can drive and motivate you like yourself. It’s something about self empowerment that keeps me going each and every day.
What’s been the most surprising thing that has happened to you so far in your career?
To be quite honest the most surprising thing that has happened to me is how much I have grown as a person from living in Washington DC for two moths. As much as I love a challenge, I have such a great support system but home in California that I was not sure how I would do without the people I love most in my life. I did not see the change being as great a fit as it was, I know now that if you throw me in any evironment or dynamic that I can make it work. I feel that I know myself better than I have ever before and now I have the knowledge and will power togo after whatever I chose to pursue once I graduate.
What do you do for fun/relaxation?
For fun I love to just relax with my friends to relieve stress. I have the most incredible sisterhood back at Sonoma State within the lovely Theta Gamma Chapter of Alpha Delta Pi. I live with my best friends who are the most incredible roommates in the world! I also have a huge reality tv addiction, nothing compares to down time louge time.
Any parting advice for someone who would like to follow in your footsteps?
Go for it! When you finally decide what you love do not let anything hold you back, start at the beginning and work your way up, love what you do and stay focused! The best thing I can leave for readers is that no matter what to appreciate the people in your life and not get overly obsessed with your career. It’s about balance, I feel I have a very good balance of being able to be driven and motivated but also stay grounded and not get ahead of myself by surrounding myself with incredible family and friends. When you wake up one morning you may realize how many years may have gone by, make sure who you want with you is still there and that they didn’t get pushed to the background.
How can our readers connect with you?
Facebook and Twitter!