Ashbrook Scholar Tests Career Goal Through Internship
December 24, 2020
It takes discipline to power through the rigorous coursework of an Ashbrook Scholar, especially for those who add on extracurricular activities and work as interns in the Ashbrook Center. Kayla Toth, an Ashbrook Scholar and intern, exemplifies determination combined with careful preparation for her future. Toth is a junior from Twinsburg, Ohio majoring in political science, with minors in history and public relations. She interned for ten weeks this summer in the online membership office at the Heritage Foundation.
Why did you seek this internship, and how were you selected for it?
I hope for a career in development work for a political nonprofit. An Ashbrook student who did an internship with Heritage last summer advised me that with this interest, I should apply to intern in Heritage’s development division, since that is not often a requested placement. Most people our age do not know already that they have this career goal. I completed an online application and Ashbrook faculty wrote me letters of application. Then I was contacted by the staffer in the online membership office who would supervise me. She explained what the work would involve, and I felt very prepared going into the internship.
What were your responsibilities?
I responded to donor emails and calls, communicating with people all over the country, learning their concerns. To update donors on Heritage policy briefings, I posted 200-word summaries of each briefing to a blog, myheritage.org, providing a link so they could read whole thing.
How did the internship challenge you to grow and expand your thinking?
Interns were invited to attend current policy briefings. I found these challenging, since at Ashbrook we focus less on contemporary politics than on the political thought that informs the American Founding and the history that followed. But these briefings helped me bridge that gap between current issues and political theory. The general focus was on conservative principles and on living those out in current culture. Some of the briefings actually covered the Founding, and I was well prepared for these, since I had already read the relevant primary documents three or four times in various Ashbrook classes.
It was good to broaden my horizons and debate other interns who have different college experiences. I really enjoyed the opportunity to apply what I have learned in my Ashbrook classes when discussing important topics with other interns.
In what other ways did your experience as an Ashbrook Scholar prepare you for this opportunity?
It gave me confidence. Because of my study of American political principles, I feel very prepared for the political world. We have to understand where we’re coming from to know where we’re going. I have a firm understanding of what I believe in and am not so swayed by popular culture
What did you learn about the career you aspire to?
There is definitely a growing need for people skilled in fundraising to help public policy organizations develop their programs. It is hard work, and you’ve got to want it. But I feel very blessed to have had an opportunity to try my hand at the very profession I’m interested in.