CLS Strategies Intern Spotlight: Rachel Schwam

CLS Strategies Intern Spotlight: Rachel Schwam

Rachel is West Virginia-born and Florida-raised, and she is a rising senior at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she majors in Spanish and minors in Politics/International Affairs and Latin America & Latino Studies. On campus, Rachel serves as a Student Member of the Judicial Council, a campus tour guide for Ambassadors in Admissions, and Co-President of Project Launch, a mentoring program that matches Wake Forest students with groups of local seventh graders. She hopes to further her education in the future and pursue a career in international relations. Spending time with her family and friends, going to the beach, biking, and drinking quality coffee are her favorite pastimes.

Who/what has had the most impact on your academic or professional interests?

My parents, my grandmother, and all of my professors have impacted my academic and professional interests the most. Ever since I was young, my parents told me I could do anything if I put my mind to it. Additionally, my grandmother has always been a huge role model for me because of her revolutionary accomplishments. In academics, all of my professors have encouraged me to dig deeper and ask the tough questions. Specifically, my linguistics professor showed me that understanding and learning is not always instant, but with patience and dedication, it will come.

What do you look for in an internship experience, and how has this shaped your career goals?

I seek to gain knowledge about topics I am not as familiar with to further my knowledge of previously studied topics and to develop personally and professionally. I have learned to be proactive and to be open-minded so I can meet many people, and hopefully, this will allow many doors to open.

What are your long-term career goals?

Right now, I am not set on one particular path. I would like to be able to do research in an area involving international relations, ideally related to Latin America. Whatever that ends up being, I want to know so much about that topic that I will be able to work in the field as well as teach and speak about it. Hopefully, my research can create change and people can learn from that change.

What has surprised you so far about your journey towards your career goals?

Going into everything without expectations is not how I always approach things, but I have learned that you can never predict exactly how something will pan out or what it might entail. In this path towards my career goals, this has been true, as well as learning how to be adaptable and accepting constructive criticism to better my abilities.

Can you expand on your interest in public relations?

My mother and grandmother have done public relations work for most of their lives, so growing up around the field made me curious as to what it was actually like on a day-to-day basis. I am a Spanish major, so communications and language are what I enjoy!

What comes easiest to you as an intern at CLS Strategies?

Completing tasks in a timely manner has been my strength while at CLS. Deadlines are important, and since I have learned this throughout my life in school and work settings, I have been able to apply it this summer during my internship.

What has been your biggest challenge as an intern at CLS Strategies? How do you address that?

Taking on tasks that are new, both simple and complex, can be daunting. I address this by being inquisitive, showing my willingness and desire to learn, and communicating with various supervisors to be sure my work is satisfactory for internal and client use.

What is your favorite thing about living in Washington, D.C.?

I love the large mix of cultures (and authentic cuisines) here as well as how active the city is. There are so many amazing restaurants, and the museums are beautiful and educational. The National Portrait Gallery/ Smithsonian American Art Museum is my favorite site! Also, I enjoy attending SoulCycle regularly before or after work since it is a fun way to de-stress.

On our website we ask all of our staff to share three things about themselves. What are three things about yourself that we might not know?

1. While I studied abroad in Chile in fall 2017, I traveled to the Atacama Desert in the north and then I went to Tierra del Fuego (which is in the far south near Antarctica) and saw a colony of king penguins.

2. In high school, I rowed competitively for two and a half years. At the last regatta of my career, my boat won second in the state and first among schools! We got our school’s name added to the event trophy and received individual medals; that was a day I will never forget.

3. When I was younger, I was selected to be part of a local news segment where they interviewed kids about their favorite Christmas tree at a tree decorating contest.


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