Next month, Philadelphia will host the Democratic National Convention — and some Penn students are helping make that happen.
“I knew when I first heard that Philadelphia got the bid that I wanted to be involved in some way,” rising College junior Karissa Hand said.
Since January, Hand has been working as a press intern for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the DNC, a nonprofit organization chaired by former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell. Hand took a class taught by Rendell in the fall of 2015, where he encouraged students who wanted to participate in the process to apply for an internship.
“I’m definitely interested in public service in some capacity, and specifically political communication, so this internship fits in perfectly with that,” Hand said.
While the host committee is not directly in charge of what actually happens during the convention, it developed programming and events around Philadelphia for the week leading up to and during the DNC.
“One of our big events is Political Fest, which is going to be at the Constitution Center and a few other locations across the city with interactive displays and game shows and some prominent government officials and maybe some celebrities,” Hand said. “I’ll be helping out a lot staffing that and managing all the other press volunteers. And making sure that the press gets the right information that they need about what’s going on.”
While Hand is helping manage press relations for the DNC, rising College and Wharton junior Ben Gendelman will be part of the press corps, working with CBS News to cover the convention.
“The position’s called news runner,” he said. “I’m going to be working with the production team organizing the logistics of the event, where various people have to be, actually working with the news crew.”
Gendelman hopes to go into broadcasting one day, and he said the position is an opportunity for him to experience a professional news production and to build up contacts within the industry.
“One thing that the person who interviewed me mentioned was that when they’re putting up the camera angle, I’m going to be the one sitting in the desk — I thought that was pretty neat,” he said, adding that his dream is to work as a news anchor or late-night host. “There’s going to be obviously some tedious parts of it, but a lot of it’s going to be around the production angle.”
Other students will be at the DNC as participants, engaging with and exploring the convention itself.
Rising College sophomore Ari Goldfine will be attending the convention as part of a communications class called “Conventions, Debates and Campaigns” taught by an Annenberg School professor David Eisenhower. After attending the class, students will use their experiences as a springboard for assignments this fall. For many, the draw of the class is the chance to have access to events inside the DNC.
“That’s why I was interested in the class from the get-go,” Goldfine said. She serves on the board of Penn Democrats and is actively involved in politics on campus. “It’s a huge gathering of people in Democratic politics and it would be a crazy opportunity to see everyone speak and a very historic moment.”
Some students interested in global politics will have another chance to participate in the convention: The Penn Diplomacy and Policy Council is partnering with the Yale-based think tank European Horizons to send five to eight students to the DNC. PennDPC is currently in the process of selecting a delegation among the pool of applicants.
“The people who applied to us are going to be representing both [PennDPC] and the European Horizons think tank,” rising Wharton junior and PennDPC President Robert Dowling said.
While the exact details of the partnership have not been worked out, the students will likely be able to engage extensively with the convention, having the chance to meet foreign dignitaries and attend discussions or speeches.
“From what we understand so far — again, everything is still in the works — they’re going to have full access passes, they’re going to be fully engaged in the discussion,” Dowling said. “It’ll be everything except voting.”
Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The Daily Pennsylvanian.