On Christmas Eve, Tiffany Saltis, a Castleton University student, was out to breakfast catching up with a friend when she noticed she had a missed call.
She recognized it as the phone number for Senator Bernie Sanders’ office where she had interviewed for their media internship just the previous week.
“In my mind, I was thinking ‘oh no, they’re getting rid of the first round of applicants, I didn’t make the cut,’ and I think I was shaking. I was feeling so many different emotions,” Saltis said.
She called them back and had just missed the person who had called her, Kate Farley, Outreach Representative and the media internship supervisor at Sanders’ office.
Saltis got Farley’s e-mail address and upon logging into her e-mail, Saltis noticed she already had an e-mail from her.
Farley was offering her the position.
“I think I dropped my phone. I think I jumped up and may have said a couple of swear words and jumped for joy and cried,” Saltis said.
She accepted the position and will be working for Sanders’ office four days a week this semester, helping with the production of videos pertaining to things going on in Vermont, Saltis said.
Saltis was selected out of 50 applicants. Vermonters are given priority for the internship and Saltis had the filming, video editing and interviewing skills they were looking for, Farley said.
“Tiffany was particularly interested in representing Vermont stories. As A Vermonter, we knew Tiffany could help us share those stories and highlight the important issues facing constituents,” Farley said.
To Saltis, it was an opportunity she had to pursue. She has always gotten involved with non-profits or organizations that she believes are making a difference and she has been active politically since she was legally able to do so, she said.
“It was more this feeling that I had to apply. I have the tendency of going after opportunities that scare me a little bit, which I think is good for growth. I just knew that in position like that I had the power to be an instrument for positive change,” Saltis said.
Media and Communication Department Chair Michael Talbott, who has had Tiffany in various classes, wrote her a letter of recommendation for the internship and was not surprised that she got it.
“I wasn’t surprised at all. She’s, you know, the perfect candidate for that internship. She’s a non-traditional student, she’s a returning student. She’s a little older. I think that gives her the benefit of having sort of a poise and a maturity,” he said.
She has the skills and experience to perform at the level expected for an internship like this, Talbott said.
He also said Saltis getting an internship at Bernie Sanders’ office is affirmation that the department prepares Castleton students for the real world and helps connect students with real opportunities.
“I’m excited to see what she does, see what comes out of this and where she goes from there,” Talbott said.
Journalism professor David Blow also wrote Saltis a letter of recommendation because he too believed she was a good match for this position after only having her in one class, Media Ethics, he said.
In class, she was always prepared and an active participant in class discussions. She also was one of the leaders for the civic engagement project they did, Blow said.
But one thing that really impressed him was her drive. He said that not only did she work hard in his class, but she accepted an opportunity to produce a promotional video for the Hyde Collection Museum without payment, when other students had turned it down for that exact reason.
“Professors live for students like her. They need students like her to play along. Classes are boring without students like Tiffany who pay attention, and react and start discussions. So, I thought she’d be good at it (the internship),” Blow said. “She’s one of those people who you know right off within a couple weeks of being exposed to her that she conscientious and a hard worker.”
Saltis began her internship last week and she said it still feels surreal that she got this prestigious internship.
“It’s going to be a lot, it’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be stressful at moments, but in the same sense, it’s going to be incredibly rewarding. It’s going to be a whirlwind of emotions and really amazing things,” Saltis said.