January 3, 2018

VSU’s Connor McCarthy Enjoys Washington, D.C., Internship Experience

VALDOSTA — Valdosta State University student Connor McCarthy spent the Fall 2017 semester interning in the Washington, D.C., office of Johnny Isakson, a United States senator from Georgia.

McCarthy, a political science major from Richmond Hill, Georgia, who expects to graduate in Spring 2019, assisted Isakson’s office by coordinating meetings, tending to daily office needs, and giving tours of the United States Capitol to Isakson’s constituents. He also sat in on several Congressional meetings, hearings, debates, and votes.

“The experience was an eye-opener,” McCarthy said. “Working on Capitol Hill and seeing everything happen in real-time was surreal. I was at the center of democracy and got to see how the wheels turn. I got to see how people actually get help from a federal agency if they have a problem.

“It was a rewarding experience. It’s something that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life.”

McCarthy met and interacted with many notable officials, including Paul Ryan, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives; Heather Wilson, secretary of the U.S. Air Force; Julie Bishop, Australian minister for foreign affairs; Mninwa J. Mahlangu, South African ambassador to the U.S.; and Sir Kim Darroch, British ambassador to the U.S.

McCarthy received academic credit for the full-time internship and was required to compile a weekly journal and write papers analyzing current political issues while he lived in D.C.

“Connor has a tremendous work ethic, and he is gifted at research as well as data analysis,” said Dr. James T. LaPlant, dean of the Graduate School, vice president for research, and professor of political science at VSU. “He is a natural leader and a very effective communicator. His passion for politics played a key role in helping him secure this internship.

“Connor has a very valuable field experience to now draw upon in connection with his academic studies. If he pursues law school, graduate school, or a legislative staff position, he has a very enriching experience to equip him for the challenges and opportunities of the future. Our Department of Political Science prepares students for these types of internships through an intensive study of American political institutions and processes.”

McCarthy has worked on several political campaigns, including the campaign to re-elect U.S. Representative Austin Scott from Georgia and several city races throughout Lowndes and Brooks counties.

“Politics fascinates me,” he said. “It shapes people’s lives and determines the course of history. I want to contribute in a positive way to that change.”

McCarthy won the Department of Political Science’s Best Paper Award in Spring 2017 for his research on the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote. He presented the research at the Southern Political Science Association Meeting in New Orleans and VSU’s Undergraduate Research Symposium that same semester.

He is the executive director of the VSU College Republicans and a member of the Catholic Newman Center. He also serves as university ambassador and orientation leader at VSU. He is currently working for the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce as an assistant in government affairs during the 2018 legislative session of the Georgia General Assembly.