A good first impression helped Wendell native Caleb Sanderson land a summer internship in the office of N.C. Senator Chad Barefoot.
Sanderson, a 2012 East Wake High grad and rising junior at N.C. State University, knew about the legislative intern position since his high school days. But it wasn’t until he attended a campaign fundraiser for a U.S. Senate primary candidate that the door opened on the opportunity.
“I made a good first impression on one of the people there,” said Sanderson, who is studying economics with a minor in accounting. “He has a strong relationship with Senator Barefoot and told me about a potential position in Senator Barefoot’s office. This gentleman helped me get in contact with Senator Barefoot a few days later.”
The role was right up Sanderson’s alley. He’s followed politics for several years and was the Public Relations Officer for the Society of Politics, Economics, and the Law at N.C. State as a sophomore. He met many people in the political field, including North Carolina FreeEnterprise Foundation Executive Director Joe Stewart, through that club.
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Sanderson interned in the spring as a researcher at NCFEF, and it was there he realized he wanted to continue working in politics.
“When I heard of the position under Senator Barefoot, I knew this was the right move for me to gain practical research experience in North Carolina politics,” he said.
The internship ran May 14 through last Friday. Sanderson’s typical day this summer consisted of classes at State in the morning, the intern job in the afternoon, and then preparing to study abroad (in Leeds, England) followed by homework.
With Barefoot’s office, usually for about 25 hours per week, Sanderson says his main responsibility was to learn.
“I attended many legislative sessions, many committee meetings, and Senator Barefoot was always willing to answer any questions I have,” he said. “Along with that, I have worked on a few projects throughout the summer to help keep the office running effectively.
“Senator Barefoot was very good about giving me projects where I can utilize my strengths and research background along with allowing me to grow in my professional skills and knowledge of North Carolina politics.”
Sanderson fulfilled his responsibility getting an insider’s view of how the General Assembly functions. He said he was most surprised by witnessing relationships within the Senate.
“Contrary to some public belief, almost all of the legislation passed this session gained bipartisan support,” he said. “Experiencing the legislative process first-hand is a very rewarding experience.”
His favorite part of the job was the legislative sessions – seeing bills brought to the floor and then voted into law.
“It is even more special to see a bill become a law when your senator is the primary sponsor of the bill,” he said.
Sanderson said the most challenging aspect of the internship was keeping tabs on all the activity.
“When I am in a committee meeting there are anywhere between five to 10 acts of legislation being referenced, sometimes all at the same time,” he said. “It can be difficult for me to keep track of every piece of legislation. There are over 1,000 bills this session alone.”