Most students consider Fall break the ideal time to catch-up on a little rest and relaxation. But Kathleen Bardsley ’08 and Ian Bartels ’08 had other objectives in mind. The political science majors were chosen by Iva Deutchman, professor of political science, to attend an Academic Outreach Conference sponsored by the American Association of Political Consultants. At the conference, they had the opportunity to meet some of the most prominent political consultants in the country.
On Thursday, Oct. 11, Bardsley and Bartels hopped in a car with Deutchman and set out on a five-hour road trip. Their destination was Akron, Ohio, where this year’s conference was being held. The weekend, titled “Making Democracy Happen: Careers in Applied Politics,” provided a medium to discuss political consulting and public affairs with professionals. Attended by approximately 400 scholars and professors from all over the United States, the conference explored issues such as career trends, technical expertise and ethical issues.
The students attended a seminar called “Here They Come: Candidates and Campaigns for 2008,” which Bardsley considered the most memorable part of the weekend. The discussion dealt with models used during presidential elections and allowed the consultants an opportunity to provide their professional opinions about the current race. Another component of the conference included a mentoring lunch, which allowed the students time to receive career advice and guidance from the experts.
“This was an incredible networking opportunity,” stated Bartels. “We were able to talk with political professionals who provided us with business cards, answered questions about their occupational fields, and discussed their outlooks on a variety of other matters.”
Since the start of the Academic Outreach Conference in 1999, Deutchman has attended several of the conferences and believes that they provide students with immense benefits.
“I have been attending these conferences for a number of years thanks to the generosity of President Mark Gearan,” said Deutchman. “This is a great opportunity for students to see what these politicians have to say and explore possible jobs for the future.”
Both students believe that the conference opened their eyes to the large scope of opportunities that are available. “I am extremely grateful for this opportunity. The event far surpassed my expectations,” said Bardsley.