Street: What is your job at the DNC?
Karissa Hand: I am a press intern for the Philadelphia 2016 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention. What we are is the non-profit entity responsible for raising all of the money for the convention and putting on events around town for delegates, visitors and residents. We are 100% a non-profit. We are not part of it, even though we are technically putting this on for the Democratic National Convention. We are more about Philadelphia instead of the party. I am a press intern so I have been here since January. I work directly under the Communications Director, so I report to her and do things like drafting press releases, media advisories, I write briefings for our Executive Director and former Governor Rendell, I write our newsletter that goes out to 40,000 people.
Street: What is one of the craziest things that has ever happened at your internship?
KH: We stay away from the craziness of the party and the politics of it all. But one of my favorite projects that we have going on is called Donkeys Around Town so we have 57 fiberglass donkeys that were each painted by local artists to represent one of the states or territories and they have been put out throughout the city so that people can do scavenger hunts to find them at key locations. One of my favorite stories about that is that a couple weeks ago, someone reported that the Guam donkey was missing. We all started freaking out like, “What happened to Guam!” We were all ready to launch a search and rescue mission and it turned out that the donkey was there the whole time and it was never missing so we didn't have to go out searching for it. That was probably not a typical experience.
Street: What is the hardest part of your job?
KH: We have a really small staff. I believe there are only 13 paid staff members and this is a giant job. We have 50,000 people coming into the city. My boss is the only Communications Director so anything you have under communication all falls on her, so it makes the work more substantial and there is a lot more to do. How the Host Committee has dealt with that is we have a really large and dedicated base of volunteers, like me, so we get a lot more responsibility than a typical intern. So it is difficult, but it has been one of my favorite parts of the job because I am doing real work.
Street: Do you work crazy hours?
KH: I am here Monday through Friday 9 to 5, but I have another job that I work on nights and weekends, but between the two jobs I work 60 to 70 hours a week. But when our events for the convention are going on, I am pretty much expecting to be working almost around the clock.
Street: How are planning to stay awake?
KH: Lots of coffee. I rely heavily on the coffee machine at work. And honestly I think just the adrenaline of the whole event is going to keep me up. I’m not really going to have time to think about how tired I am.
Street: What sparked your interest in politics?
KH: I’ve always been interested in public service, and specifically in political communication. So my major is called Communication and Public Service and through those classes I have continually developed my interest in politics.
Street: Do you plan to pursue politics after Penn?
KH: Yeah, that’s the plan right now. This internship has really confirmed for me that I want to get into political communications. I really love what I am doing here and I can see myself doing this for the rest of my life.
Street: Does going to going to school in Philly make your job easier?
KH: This internship has really developed my love for Philadelphia. It has made me appreciate it so much more and it has made me explore it. The Democratic Convention is such a great opportunity for the city to show it off on really an international scale. I am so excited to see how everything comes together and to see the delegates walking around taking selfies with the donkeys.
Street: Have you been able to meet any cool people because of your job?
KH: Oh, yeah, definitely! Governor Rendell is our chair and I have been working extremely closely with him. He is just an incredible public servant who has done so much for Philadelphia and for Pennsylvania so I am learning a lot from him. And just walking around the office sometimes people are here. Nutter was here. Senator Casey was here a few weeks ago. And I am sure I will meet even more people during the convention.
Street: What should Penn students know about the DNC?
KH: Even if you are not a political person or even if you are not a Democrat, you can still take advantage of all the events we have going around and it is still going to be really exciting for you. Specifically what might be of interest to Penn students is on July 27 we are having the largest Center City sips ever in Philadelphia from 5-7 pm. We are also having a bunch of #dnc deals which are restaurants and bars that are having their own special deals for the convention. And that is all listed on our website. But even if you are not a democrat, we still live in Philadelphia and we love Philadelphia and this is going to be a great experience for our city, so I encourage Penn students and everyone to take full advantage of it because it is going to be really exciting.
Street: Do you expect Pokestops will bring people to the convention?
KH: Maybe! I wish there was some way we could organize our donkey scavenger hunt with the Pokestops because that would be a lot of fun. It is just important for people to get outside and see what is going on, so if Pokemon is the means to that end then fantastic.
Street: If you could have a drink with anyone in politics right now who would it be?
KH: Well, I’m not 21. So, emphasis on that. But I would have to go with my girl from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. I remember the night she was elected and I was young and I couldn’t vote. I wasn't completely sure what was going on, but I heard my mom screaming in the living room and I was like, “What’s wrong? What’s wrong?” And she was like, “My girl did it! My girl won!” And it was Elizabeth Warren. And I think she is really an incredible politician and an incredible public servant. I would love to sit down and chat with her.
Street: What is one question I forgot to ask you?
KH: You forgot to ask me if these are my own words or Michelle Obama’s.