If co-majoring in political science and international relations while minoring in theatre already sounds like a full slate, meet Albright College student, Evan Cardinal ’21. Outside of the classroom, Evan is also:
- President of Albright’s World Affairs and Hillel Clubs,
- A religious school teacher for Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom,
- The public address announcer for Albright Athletics,
- A radio host for WXAC 91.3 FM’s “Thursday Tracklist” show,
- And a work study student in both the McMillan Center and the Schumo Center for Fitness and Well-Being.
And yet, somehow Evan found the time to take on a virtual, public statements research internship with Vote Smart last summer. Vote Smart is a non-profit research organization that helps Americans access non-partisan data and information on political candidates and elected officials.
Discovering Vote Smart through Albright’s Handshake internship and career resource, Evan applied early and landed his internship several months before the summer began. In spite of working remotely due to COVID-19, Vote Smart found ways to help Evan feel included – such as giving him opportunities to host daily trivia, add to the weekly Spotify playlist and demonstrate his professionalism.
“I learned about numerous candidates, their specific policy preferences, and subsequently gained insight into the legislative process,” said Evan. “I discovered for myself that bipartisanship is evident in the U.S. Congress despite otherwise popular dissent.”
Inputting more than 2,000 public statements and issue positions from politicians and candidates spanning states across the country influenced Evan to write a blog post on bipartisanship that was submitted to Vote Smart’s annual research competition.
“In ten years, I honestly could see myself as a political data scientist working in either the public or private sector — or being a performer (I’m a theatre minor at Albright as well),” said Evan. “They’re quite wildly different fields, but it’s definitely possible!”
And although intrigued by learning about the basics of SQL databases and experiencing the rigor of research firsthand, Evan discovered an important differentiator for him: analyzing data for a purpose — as Vote Smart does — is worthy of his time. Blindly collecting data is not.
He also learned that his elevated work ethic will likely set him apart, regardless of his chosen field.
“Even if the task isn’t the most enjoyable, I saw that my work ethic will translate to any potential career path as I continue working beyond my studies,” said Evan. “Non-profit political research, indicative of Vote Smart, is a field I certainly can see pursuing. Political data science is most likely the track I will follow despite only tasting a little bit of data analysis at Vote Smart.”
One small way that Evan showcases his staggering involvement is by listing his volunteer and work titles alongside imagery in a custom email signature. And at Vote Smart, that signature was interesting enough to catch the eye of James Wypych, director of elections and candidates research. After a quick tutorial from Evan, James let him know that Vote Smart will be using a similar signature to close out emails containing the Political Courage Test — an open-ended survey measuring federal and state candidates’ willingness to answer voter questions, such as stances on abortion and gun rights.
“I am ecstatic that something I encouraged will now be shared across the nation and perhaps come across the emails of notable prospective and elected officials,” said Evan.