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Spending time mangaging time: Heitkamp intern successfully juggles work, school, motherhood

Courtesy Photo Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., left, poses with Sarah Jennings, her Dickinson office intern, in this undated photo. Jennings, 24, juggles work, school and motherhood.

There are some college jobs that will always look impressive on a resume.  Congressional intern is one of them.

As an intern in Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s Dickinson field office, Dickinson State University student and single mother Sarah Jennings can earn this credential without moving or leaving her daughter.

As one of four fall interns in Heitkamp’s field offices throughout the state, Jennings does hands-on work with constituents on the west side of the state, along with Shirley Meyer and Kay Morast. Heitkamp, a first-term Democrat, also hosted two interns this fall in her Washington, D.C., office.

“This is my first internship and it’s one my favorite experiences I’ve had so far,” Jennings said. “I think Sen. Heitkamp is doing a wonderful job, so to be able to work with her staff and to represent her office is a dream come true.”

Meyer and Morast reciprocate the feelings.

“Her resume was stunning to begin with and meeting her and working with here — we can tell it’s going to be a great ride,” Morast said. “She’s going to great with the senator’s office.”

The infusion of youth is welcomed at Dickinson’s first senatorial office.

“We really appreciate having these interns and letting them get the experience of working in a senatorial office,” Meyer said. “We just really appreciate all these younger people that help us old timers with our computer applications.”

In addition to being a full-time student, mother and part-time congressional intern, Jennings also works nights at Maverick’s Saloon when she doesn’t have her daughter, Aubrey.

“I spend my time managing time,” Jennings said.

Jennings claims Dickinson as home. The 24-year-old moved here 10 years ago.

She entered DSU in 2010 and is on track to graduate next fall when Aubrey will start kindergarten.

With dreams of working in public service some day, the DSU junior is majoring in history and political science, and has her sights set on graduate school with no definite plans until after she completes her graduate record examinations test.

“I would like to stay somewhat close and get the best education I can get,” Jennings said. “What I’m doing now is something I would love to do in the future.”

Having 4-year-old Aubrey has only made her career goals clearer.

“It gave me more motivation than I have ever had before,” Jennings said. “Many college students, they don’t have a lot of extra things to do and they get to spend a lot of time on school.”

Because of the federal government shutdown last month, Jennings had a little more than two weeks off from the internship. She had only completed two weeks of work prior to the shutdown and said she would have rather been in the office.

“Working in the political science field is something that I’ve always dreamed of, so to be able to do it and to understand that I am taking the right path is really exciting to me,” Jennings said.

The internship is putting her on that path.

“If you share a passion for representing the people around you and really hoping for a change for the future, this is the way to go,” Jennings said. “I’m inspired every day and I really think that we need people in there that are going to work with other people and that are not going to be afraid to stand up for the little person.”

At DSU, Jennings is involved in the university’s League of Political Scientists and Student Senate, on top of her regular class work, jobs and motherhood.

“I think she’s got a bright future,” Meyer said. “I think we’ll get her involved in politics.”

Apply for internships

To apply for internships with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s offices, visit Fall, spring and summer internships are available in Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot and Washington, D.C.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206