Ever wonder what it’s like to participate in the political process? College student Dorothy Oehmler gave us the behind-the-scenes scoop about her internship with CNN at this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Find out more about her experience, and see if internships really can be more than just making coffee!

Tell us about your experience at the convention. “I helped my bosses with anything they needed. I did everything from greeting guests to handling scripts to grabbing lunch for staffers.”

The convention in 3 words: “Energizing. Fast-paced. Inspiring.“

Unexpected perks: “On the first day, I was very easily starstruck, but by the end of the week, I was so used to seeing CNN anchors like Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer that it barely fazed me. But there were a few moments that rendered me speechless…like when I saw Kareem Abdul-Jabbar stand up, I was completely taken aback at his height. I know I should have expected it but he was so tall!”


Most inspiring moment: “President Barack Obama’s speech. I was running on about four hours of sleep, but when we finally got passes to go into the arena on Wednesday night, I couldn’t say no. I actually cried before he came out; it occurred to me that this is a man I have grown up watching. I remembered seeing his 2008 inauguration in seventh grade, and watching his speech felt like closing a chapter in my own life.”

Most embarrassing moment: “On the  last day of the convention I had to drive a former ambassador to his CNN International interview. I took a golf cart to pick him and his wife up from the parking lot, but on the way to the set it started raining cats and dogs on us. We got them to the CNN suite just in time, but the makeup lady had to blow dry the ambassador’s shirt so he wouldn’t be sopping wet on live TV!”

Describe your pre-convention political prep: “Before I attended the convention I was interested in politics, but my experience at the convention deepened that interest even more. To prepare, I watched every minute of the Republican National Convention in the week prior to the Democratic National Convention to make myself more informed.”

Dorothy’s tip for pre-election research: “If you want to get more informed, sign up for Twitter notifications from all the major news outlets like NBC, CNN and Fox. Even just reading the headlines helped me stay in the loop when I didn’t have time to read full articles.”