Georgia Tech punter Sean Poole grew up with a father in politics. The last thing he wanted to do was follow that career path.
Until ... he decided to follow that career path.
After arriving in Atlanta intent on studying business, Poole began to miss politics. He decided to switch majors to public policy and admitted to his father, Van, "You rubbed off on me a little more than I thought."
Now, Poole has his political aspirations up and running. He is spending his summer interning at a lobbying firm in Washington, D.C., working in the governmental relations sector. He spends a lot of time on Capitol Hill, hob-nobbing with important folks and sitting in on his fair share of subcommittees.
"It's been such a cool experience," Poole said in a recent phone conversation. "I've gotten to meet a lot of different people, all up and down the line. You don't realize whose hand you're shaking sometimes. To be in that environment and pick those guys' brains, to ask, 'How do I aspire to do what you do?' getting the advice from all the people in the firm is great."
But football has not exactly taken a back seat. In order to get permission from coach Paul Johnson to leave Atlanta for the summer, Poole knew he had to present a plan for football. So when the two met before the spring semester ended to discuss the internship, Poole came prepared.
The plan: Poole wakes up at 5 a.m. to work out at the gym, and kicks five times a week at a local high school after work. He has a lined field where he can judge punts and work on his consistency. He also enlisted the help of a friend who used to be a long-snapper at a junior college. Poole also has relied on cousins in the military who are stationed nearby to help keep him in line during his workouts.
"One of the advantages of attending a school with an academic reputation like Georgia Tech, and in a thriving city like Atlanta, is that you have world-class businesses anxious to hire bright students," Johnson said. "And when those businesses hire student-athletes -- whether it be for an internship or a full-time position -- they know they are going to get a young man or young woman who is able to balance first-class academics and athletics.”
Politics have been a way of life for years in the Poole household. Van Poole served in the Florida House of Representatives and then eventually served as chairman of the Republican Party of Florida before becoming a lobbyist. Poole has been staying with his sister, who also works in politics in Washington, D.C.
Last summer, Poole interned in the Georgia Governor's office, working in health policy.
His initial plan for this summer was to interview with a few senators he made contacts with while working for the governor's office. But there was uncertainty there because of the budget cutbacks. One senator suggested applying for an internship at a lobbying firm.
"I took a wild shot to see if I even had a chance," Poole said.
He did a phone interview from Atlanta, then flew to Washington for a second round of interviews. Poole was one of 12 people chosen for the internship. Though he is not at liberty to disclose specifics about clients or his day-to-day duties, Poole did give generalities about his role at the firm.
As an example, Poole would be assigned to attend a subcommittee hearing and take notes on the different points of view presented. He then takes the information and puts in a memo or brief, to be presented to the interested parties. The work has convinced Poole that he wants to continue on the lobbying side once he graduates.
But before he goes into the job force, Poole has another football season. His big goal is to work on his consistency and to stay healthy, after missing time last season with a shoulder injury. He heads back to Atlanta a few weeks before his internship ends to rejoin his team for fall practices.
"I am feeling 100 percent, and I know I will be ready and not miss a beat whenever I come back," Poole said. "It will work out perfectly."