Mary Catherine Olive is a junior political science major, who is concentrating in American politics. She is currently serving as an intern in Governor Nathan Deal’s office.

Newsletter editor Maria J. Albo interviewed Mary.

Mary Catherine Olive

What made you choose the Department of Political Science and International Affairs when deciding on your course of study?

I have always been interested in how the levels of government work together to implement legislation and policy. In choosing political science I believed that this would be the best way to understand why and how the local, state, and national governments work together to accomplish these things.

What made you decide to apply for the internship?

I decided to apply to the Governor’s Office program after I received an e‑mail message from one of my teachers about the opportunity. After I received this message, I went to an information session about the program and received a lot of very good information. Before I sent in my résumé and then after I received notice that I had an interview, I went to the Career Center, received help with my résumé, and did a mock interview. Both of these things were a huge help to me. I believed that this internship would be a wonderful opportunity to see how the state government functions.

Tell me about your typical day as an intern.

In the Governor’s Office I work in constituent services from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the day we receive requests from constituents requesting letters recognizing birthdays, anniversaries, Eagle Scouts, custom events, and many other milestones. Two other interns and I are assigned certain letters and expected to complete them in a timely manner. I handle all custom event letters. This is where the constituent is having some sort of event and gives us information, dates, and other relevant information, and I write the letter that is mailed out. I also answer constituent phone calls throughout the day. People call the Governor’s Office about all kinds of issues and problems. They tell us the problem and we then transfer them to the relevant specialists in our office or give them the number to the appropriate agency. Many constituents call in and want to leave an opinion for Governor Deal. When they call and leave an opinion, we document it and then the director takes it to a senior staff meeting where it is discussed and there can be a better understanding of what constituents want. If constituents call about a federal issue, then we give them the telephone number of a U. S. senator. Our office receives the occasional walk-in as well. When this happens, we refer the visitor to the relevant specialist. I also attend events, rallies, and press conferences at the Capitol.

What has surprised you most about your internship?

The thing that has surprised me most about this internship is the number and variety of issues that the Governor’s Office deals with on a day-to-day basis. During the session of the General Assembly it is very busy. On most days both the House and the Senate are is session. When legislation moves in either of these chambers, our office receives phone calls in regards to whatever the legislation was and what the next step in the legislative process may be. The Governor’s Office also helps deal with issues concerning healthcare, the legal system, casework, education, and other matters. The spectrum of issues that the Governor’s Office is equipped to handle surprised me. It is not just about creating new laws.

How have your courses prepared you for this internship?

My courses in political science have helped prepare me for this internship by giving me a good base of knowledge about how the government actually works. One must understand that there is local government, there is state government, and there is the federal government. Many people do not understand this and they expect the governor to handle situations over which he constitutionally does not have authority. Another thing that my political science classes have given me to better prepare me for this internship is a good base of written and oral communication. All of those presentations, projects, and papers that I have done over the years are helpful in the long run!