Ashbrook Scholar Cultivates Appreciation for Non-Profit Development During Summer Internship in DC

December 24, 2020

Young conservatives often seek internships with Washington, DC nonprofit organizations that work to protect American freedoms. Eager to translate their principles to policies, they look for opportunities to do advocacy and research. Yet nonprofits  also need the intellect and energies of those willing to fundraise.

Ashbrook Scholar Maxton Miller interned at the Club for Growth in Washington this summer and lent his talents to this task.

Miller, a junior majoring in political science and economics, pursued an internship at the Club For Growth because of its focus on free-market economics. The organization calls itself  “a national network of over 100,000 pro-growth, limited government Americans who share in the belief that prosperity and opportunity come from economic freedom.” It aggressively promotes its economic agenda by spotlighting key legislation in Congress, pressuring lawmakers to vote for free-market policies, and sponsoring two political action groups who work to elect House and Senate members committed to conservative economic policy.

Club President David McIntosh spoke at an Ashbrook colloquium last year. Impressed by the Scholars’ polite demeanor and intelligent questions, McIntosh spontaneously encouraged internship inquiries, even though the Club did not have a large intern program.

Miller promptly followed up. Interviewed by the Club’s Vice President Chuck Pike, who explained that the intern position in policy was already assigned, Miller assured Pike that he wanted to help in fundraising. He wanted to assist in work that provided “the means to do everything else,” he told Pike.

The Club put Miller to work helping with the fundraising for heavily contested electoral races. Along with photocopying letters and stuffing envelopes, Miller researched potential donors in districts with targeted races. He also helped prepare an interactive Google map that showed past major donors in each district. This map would be a crucial resource when the club needed to quickly raise funds.

At the end of the summer, Pike was highly satisfied with the work of his two interns—Miller in development and the other in policy. The Club now plans to offer regular internships for students at area colleges.

Miller returned to his Ashbrook studies with a hopeful sense of meaningful career options. “I definitely could see myself working in the development area,” he said. Before the internship, he had put career concerns on hold as he devoted himself to coursework.

The Ashbrook Scholar program, Miller says, has radically transformed his ambitions. He chose it hoping its strong political science curriculum would prepare him for law school. But after diving into the primary documents that are the core of an Ashbrook education, “I have entirely new values. When I planned on law, I was seeking a well-paying career. But I don’t feel motivated by personal gain now. I just want to learn all I can.”

Miller has added history and religion minors to his two majors, while also studying Latin and Italian. “Any program that can foster an entirely new set of values in a person is incredible,” Miller says. He traces his transformation to conversation with other Ashbrook Scholars, “professors who are passionate about what they are teaching,” and his study of primary documents. “I wouldn’t have been interested enough to continue in political science if I were just reading some academic’s perspective. But I could read 17th and 18th century literature all day.”

Miller has time to ponder career options. For now, he is considering a statesmanship thesis on civic education as a way of practically applying what he has learned in the Ashbrook Scholar program.