Service At All Levels: Starr Rhee '21

Throughout this summer, we will be spotlighting the summer experiences of our IOP students working in politics and public service through their internships across the country and globe.

The Director’s Internship program has been a signature of the Institute of Politics for nearly 25 years and each summer the IOP works with more than 150 government offices, non-profits, and news organizations to provide internships for students who are looking to pursue careers in politics and public service. The IOP also offers summer stipends for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors accepting non- or low-paying summer internships in local, state, or federal government, public interest groups, non-governmental organizations, political organizations, and political campaigns.

This summer, as in years past, many of those students will be spending their summer being of service in government at all levels - from state and local, to Congress, and the Executive Branch.  

Starr Rhee '21 is spending her summer interning in the office of Mayor David Briley, Mayor of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County.

What inspired you to choose this public service internship?

I grew up in Nashville, and I love the city dearly. Having the opportunity to return home and give back to the community I love seemed like an incredibly rewarding experience. Nashville is going through major changes right now as a city; the population is growing rapidly, and new businesses move to the city every day. However, with growth comes growing pains. Many residents are not experiencing the benefits of Nashville's growth and are feeling left behind. I wanted to work for the city during such a momentous time because I feel that we are at a crossroads where local government can take the lead on capitalizing on growth while crafting a more equitable city for all Nashville residents.

What issue do you hope to focus on in your internship?

This summer, I am working in the Mayor's Office of Economic and Community Development, focusing primarily on affordable housing policy and workforce development strategy. My hope is that by the end of the summer, I will be able to help the office form a strategic plan for ensuring that all Nashville residents are able to benefit from the city's growth. I hope that we can focus on job training and preparation to make sure that Nashville residents are able to take advantages of the new jobs coming to town. I also hope that eventually Nashville's housing supply will meet its demand so that all residents are able to call the city home and not feel forced out by rising prices.

What are you most excited about working in public service and government?

I am looking forward to giving back to the community that raised me. I feel strongly that government has the potential to make a hugely positive impact on people's lives, but that change requires servant leadership at top levels of government and a genuine desire to engage with community members about their needs and priorities. I am excited to get to see up close how a city operates and where there is room for increased community engagement.

What are you hoping to learn and to get out of your internship experience this summer?

I want to get a better sense of how local government operates. A city is an incredibly complicated organism, and I am looking forward to better understanding all of the different government departments, community organizations, and economic players that come together to make a city function. In the process, I hope to also learn about areas where the city of Nashville may have room for growth or where Nashville can be a leader for other cities.