What Was it Like Being the Only Female Intern for a State Senate Campaign?

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021


Heading into last summer, I knew that International Baccalaureate Global Politics would be included in my course load for my upcoming junior year of high school. I decided to prepare early for its cumulative project—the Political Engagement Activity. My goal was to complete this through interning for someone running for local office in the 2020 elections. I spent a few days in June researching candidates, policies, issues, and emailing campaigns with which I most identified. I eventually settled on Niraj Antani, a young Indian-American politician running for state senate. My main motive for wanting to help out his campaign was his strong pro-life record.

After a few emails and phone calls, I showed up at our first door-knocking evening and quickly realized that, for at least the remainder of summer, I would be not only the youngest person on the team, but also the only female. 

When it came to interacting with voters, the response of local citizens was a mixed bag. I believe that most people are good people, and that voters responded to me the same as any other stranger knocking on their door. They opened the door, and begrudgingly answered our questions. Unfortunately, I did receive some negative comments in regards to my gender when doing voter outreach. Voters commented negatively on my body, would tell me they might’ve considered voting for Antani if I were prettier, or outright condemned me for simply supporting someone that wasn’t a woman, but these situations were outliers. For most others, seeing me—a Christian, Korean-American teenage girl—supporting a  man of different religion, race, and gender than my own was intriguing and actually led to conversations that ended optimistically. 

One of my favorite aspects about working on this particular campaign was that oftentimes I was asked, “What has Antani done for women if he’s so ‘pro-life?” I enjoyed this because I could discuss with them how he supported a bill that got rid of a tax on feminine hygiene products in Ohio. I imagine that having that sentiment come from me resonated more with voters because I am directly impacted whereas male interns would not be.

In the end, my experience being a campaign intern was incredibly positive. I gained mentors, friends, life skills, and experiences that I can hold onto and use for the rest of my life. I learned that being female doesn’t really mean much in the grand scheme of things, and that so long as I have an equal or greater work ethic, I will go just as far as any male intern. I also got to experience staying up late on election night and watching ballots pile in. I got to feel the joy that came with achieving victory in an area into which I put so much time and effort.

Teresa (Tess) Overholser is a highschool student southwest Ohio. She is president of her school's pro-life club and is an active member of Students for Life Action. Her other passions include running, playing clarinet, and being a gymnastics instructor.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Tess Overholser

Teresa (Tess) Overholser is a highschool student southwest Ohio. She is president of her school's pro-life club and is an active member of Students for Life Action. Her other passions include running, playing clarinet, and being a gymnastics instructor.

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