The votes are in: Koepke successful as Green Bay Mayor’s office intern

vanya-koepke-topFor UW-Green Bay student Vanya Koepke, a meeting over coffee might have helped to solidify his future career.

“I actually had the chance to get coffee with my professor, Dr. Weinschenk, and his good friend, Andy Rosendahl last semester,” said Koepke, “Andy Rosendahl just happens to be the Green Bay Mayor’s Chief of Staff.”

The conversation sparked a desire in Koepke to become even more involved.

“After talking with him I was just really inspired to dive into this as soon as possible,” he said.

A series of events after this initial meeting led Koepke, a double major in Political Science and Public Administration, to accept an internship as an assistant to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff. (Above, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt and Koepke show their Phoenix pride). Koepke, who is also the UW-Green Bay Student Government Association President, began the internship in January 2015.

As an assistant to the Mayor’s Chief of Staff, Koepke’s main job is to work on the State of the City address that the mayor gives annually in March.

“I’ve been doing a lot of research trying to find facts and various stats that we can beef up the State of the City with,” he said, “It’s also an election year, so you’re trying to be creative with setting a message or tone that could resonate with the voters later on in April.”

This internship is Koepke’s second. He previously interned in the De Pere Planning and Zoning Department, where he compiled the sustainability report.

“I put that together and presented it to the city administrators and staff at the end of my internship. It was very rewarding.”

Koepke will be graduating in May 2015 and hoped to further enhance his education by taking on this new opportunity during the spring semester.

“I knew that it was my last semester and I could choose to sit in five classes or I could build off of the great experience I had at the De Pere internship last semester and get out,” he said, “So I figured, why not get out into the real world and get that hands-on experience during my last semester here.”

This experience translates directly into what Koepke plans to do in the future.

“My hope is to work as a staffer at the capitol in Madison for five or six years,” he said, “My ultimate goal is to run for office. I’d like to run for state assembly or later on House of Representatives.”

Koepke feels that when UW-Green Bay students pursue internships they not only set themselves apart, but also build a stronger Green Bay community.

“I think if we get them connected with an internship in the greater Green Bay area, that will motivate them even more to not only explore the possibilities of getting a career here but also settling down here and raising their family here, and maybe retiring here one day,” he said, “So it’s really important for us to retain our talented students. And second, I think is just to get that real world experience. To take what you’ve learned in class and show ‘Hey, I can apply this to various parts out in my vocation.’ So I think that those are the two key areas for that.”

For Koepke, the experience itself has been positive.

“I’m really enjoying it,” he said, “I would recommend it to anyone else.”

Story by Katelyn Staaben, editorial intern, Marketing and University Communication
Photo submitted