K-State criminology student interns for Brownback


    A K-State student followed in an alumnus’ footsteps all the way to the U.S. capitol this summer.
    Dante Ruiz, senior in criminology, interned in the Washington, D.C., office of Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan. Brownback attended K-State and served as student body president during the 1978-79 school year, according to the K-State alumni Web site.
    Ruiz said the internship was referred to him by Karl Kandt, assistant director in Career and Employment Services.
    “We helped get his application packet in order,” Kandt said. He also helped edit Ruiz’s résumé and gave him a contact in Brownback’s office.
    Ruiz said the application had to include two references — one academic and one a long-time friend — as well as an essay describing why he wanted the internship. He said the office responded quickly to tell him he was accepted.
    Ruiz said his mom was nervous upon learning he would be living so far away but was excited for him as well.
    “I get my drive and work ethic from her,” Ruiz said. “It’s helped me a lot.”
    He said living on his own in a big city was a big adjustment.
    “It was up to me to find my own housing, transportation, everything,” Ruiz said. “Just going from the homey feel to the corporate, go-go-go 24/7.”         Ruiz learned quickly that in order to succeed he had to “do [his] job and do it correctly.”
    Working with staff members who were working directly with the senator was another adjustment, Ruiz said.
    “I had to step up in my demeanor and maturity level,” he said. “I showed I could really prove myself and work in that environment.”
    He said he learned “how to talk to people and express [himself] better.”
    Ruiz, who plans to eventually work in federal law enforcement, said the internship was good experience and a great opportunity to network, citing the common phrase, “It’s not what you know it’s who you know.”
    “After working in D.C., that’s definitely true,” Ruiz said. “If you know people that are higher up, that’s going to help a lot.”
    “People that come back say they had an incredible experience,” Kandt said.
    Both he and Ruiz emphasized that the internship is beneficial for all majors, not just those interested in politics.
    “Just because you do a congressional internship doesn’t mean you have to be a politician,” Kandt said.
    He said this kind of internship can lead to service in government, public administration or nonprofit careers.
    It’s also possible to do internships instate, Kandt said, explaining that Matt Casey, a former K-State student, did an internship with Pat Roberts and now works with Roberts’ campaign.
    Kandt emphasized that Ruiz did most of the work himself in regard to the internship experience.
    “He showed initiative and saw an opportunity to help achieve his long-term goals,” Kandt said. “He had the right kind of attitude.”