This story is the first of several in a series on Ozarks students and their summer internships.
In the summer before his junior year, Brandon Pierson, like many college students, could have returned to his hometown of Allen, Texas, to hang out with his friends and family. However, Brandon was one of 60 college students nationwide chosen for an internship with the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington D.C.
“I had the opportunity to work in the Human Resources Department,” says Brandon. “Once a week I met with representatives of Verizon Wireless, serving as a middle man for government agencies prepping notes for meetings and conference calls.”
Brandon also did various other tasks including clerical work and sitting in on conference calls.
With 1,300 applicants applying for the same position, Brandon credits former Ozarks student Aaron Coats (’02) for helping him through the application process. “Aaron had the same internship when he was a student at Ozarks,” says Brandon. “He was able to give me a little insight on the process.”
Brandon, who is currently pursuing a double major in political science and psychology at Ozarks, stated that the application committee was very interested in the international relations and public policy classes he studied while at Ozarks. “Aaron helped me with my resume,” says Brandon. “This was one of the main things the committee was focusing on because they are always changing policy.”
The internship was very involved and properly structured. “I thought when I first got there that I was going to be put in a cubicle in the back,” says Brandon. “But they had a curriculum which allowed me to see speakers and be able to experience many different opportunities.” Brandon stayed at George Washington University, just two miles away from the White House. “I was able to take a tour of the West Wing of the White House and a Congressional House tour as well,” says Brandon.
He was able to make many important contacts during his stay in Washington, including the Vice President of Verizon Wireless and members of the Treasury Department, who he met through Aaron. “There were about 40-50 times that I had to say where I was from and what I was majoring in,” says Brandon. “One of the first days we were there, I was sitting around talking with a Harvard University undergraduate student and a student at Columbia University Law School. But, when I said that I was from University of the Ozarks in Arkansas, it seemed like everyone respected that just as much as being from one of these bigger schools.”
Following his graduation from Ozarks, Brandon plans on capitalizing on the contacts he made during his internship and pursuing a job with the Department of Labor and the Enterprise Service Office. “There were many doors that were opened for me,” says Brandon. “I encountered everything from human resources to communication to politics during my time in Washington.”
Brandon knows that the thought of an internship in Washington D.C. with a government agency can seem overwhelming. However, he says having the aspiration to do such an internship will help you overcome this feeling. “I was able to make a little money with the internship,” says Brandon. “I had the opportunity to live it up in Washington and make contacts by introducing myself to anyone and everyone.”
His experiences in Washington were also assisted by having a connection to a former student at Ozarks. “Washington is a big place and even finding a grocery store within walking distance was a challenge,” says Brandon. “Aaron helped me out a lot by taking me across town to a grocery store and even taking me out to dinner with some of his friends.” Brandon states that some of the most important and influential people he met during his time in Washington were through Aaron.
“Using your contacts is the best way,” says Coats. “Students at Ozarks that want to get involved should reach out to other Ozarks alumni because we are more than willing to help and see them succeed.”
Brandon, who is also a soccer player at Ozarks, is not the only member of the Pierson family to hold a summer internship through U of O. “Both of my older brothers, Ryan and Aaron, played soccer here at Ozarks,” says Brandon. “They would come home and sit around the dinner table and tell stories about what their classes were like and the opportunities, such as internships, that were available to them.” Brandon needed no help in his decision on the right college after visiting campus for the first time. “They were the main reason that I chose Ozarks,” says Brandon. “One minute we were on campus and the next minute we were fly fishing on a river and that’s when I knew this was the place I needed to be.”
Brandon is involved with several campus clubs, including Baptist Collegiate Ministries, Phi Beta Lambda, and helping found the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Ozarks. “I have to carry around a day planner every where I go,” says Brandon. “It’s the only way I can really manage my time through all of these activities and classes.”
The junior defender is also currently battling to return to the soccer field after a season ending injury a year ago. “It was my first home start and less than a minute in I injured my knee,” says Brandon. However, he remains optimistic about the upcoming season and feels that he is in even better shape than a year ago. He is also excited about another possibility of another successful season for his team.
“The Pierson family has meant a tremendous amount to our program,” says Eagles head coach Dave De Hart. “Brandon plays with honesty and passion for the game and leads by example with his work rate.”
Brandon states that there is not a better choice he could have made for college than Ozarks. “I had every intention of going to a big school my whole life,” says Brandon. “There are a lot of really intelligent people at bigger schools that have not received the type of opportunities that I have here at Ozarks.”
Topics: Political Science