Inside Sen. Graham’s office with Antoinna Fuller
Junior Antionna Fuller got an inside look at how federal government works during an internship serving in U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s office. A psychology major with double minors in African American Studies and criminal justice, Fuller completed the internship in spring 2017 through the College of Arts and Sciences’ program. Laura Najim, who oversees internships for the college, had the opportunity to catch up with Fuller after her semester with Sen. Graham.
Fuller, who is from Bennettsville, South Carolina, is passionate about helping her community. She serves as a work study student in the political science department and says her favorite professor is Qiana J. Whitted of English and African American Studies.
One fun fact she learned during her experience—Sen. Graham was also a psychology major.
Q: What motivated you to find an internship?
After seeing the email announcement from the dean’s office through the student listserv, I applied for Sen. Graham’s internship program because I was interested in getting more exposure and experience in government affairs. Internships allow students to gain experience and get their foot in the door, and I am grateful for this experience because this was my first step towards my future career.
Q: What were your duties?
Answering phones, passing along constituent concerns to senior staff members, copying and filing, tracking Sen. Graham in the media, sorting mail, scanning and uploading forms and documents.
Q: What did you most enjoy about your internship?
Gaining professional experience and learning more about South Carolina state government; gaining confidence and discovering more about my strengths and weaknesses; and of course meeting Sen. Graham at a town hall meeting.
Q: What are your career goals, and how did this internship help you prepare to meet those goals?
Upon graduation, I plan to pursue a joint degree program to earn both a law degree and a graduate degree in clinical psychology. My career goal is to become a child advocate attorney, living and working in Washington, D.C. Sen. Graham’s internship program has sharpened my communication, organizational and time management skills.
Q: How did you balance your internship with coursework and other student activities?
During my internship, I was taking 16 credit hours and working as a work study student in the Department of Political Science, while maintaining an “A” average. This experience helped to hone my time management skills. My personal recipe for success is planning, planning and planning. I live by my calendar and always stay one to two weeks ahead on my coursework; not procrastinating is key.
Q: How has your student experience in the College of Arts and Sciences prepared you for out-of-the classroom experiences like your internship?
As an Arts and Sciences student, I am learning to approach the world with empathy and an open mind. My drive to succeed is stronger than ever, and the encouragement from my professors helps to guide me and keeps me motivated.
Q: What advice do you have for other Arts and Sciences students considering or preparing for an internship?
A: Don’t be intimidated in your search; apply even when there’s a lot of competition; I say go for it! Also, you can learn skills from the application and interview process. Take the initiative to follow up after the interview. Have fun during your internship!
Q: Any other general advice for your fellow Arts and Sciences students?
A: In order to grow personally and professionally, you must step out of your comfort zone and be willing to do things that are not easy for you. I highly recommend doing an internship. The internship opportunities provided by the College of Arts and Sciences prepare students for careers and demonstrates an investment that the college makes in me and my future, which is very motivating.
Q: What are your next steps?
A: I will study abroad this summer between June 26 – Aug. 2 in Florianópolis, Brazil. It’s a program through USC’s study abroad office and I will be living with a host family. Next year, I would like to earn a part-time position at the state house.
Final Q: Do you remember any questions from your internship interview that you did not expect?
If you could be any fruit, what would you be? My answer was a pineapple, because it’s sweet with a unique and interesting exterior. It stands tall and wears a crown.