Lauren Bouton, Recruiter, Charles Koch Institute
Cato Intern Class Spring 2013
How did you decide to intern at the Cato Institute?
To be honest, I ended up at the Cato Institute almost by accident, but it was one of the most influential turning points in my life that I can most recently point to. After graduating from the University of Arizona and waitressing for six months, I was searching for a job or internship either in Arizona or D.C. A friend of a Cato scholar suggested that I apply for the Cato Institute, which I was not that familiar with at the time, and I was fortunate enough to be accepted in the media department.
How did the internship affect the way you think about public policy?
The internship completely changed the way that I think about public policy. Before the internship, I was heavily involved in conservative politics, but I was unfamiliar with libertarianism and the thinking behind classical liberalism. After my time at Cato, I had a much deeper understanding of libertarianism and public policy formation. Listening to all of these ideas that were new to me allowed me to make more educated decisions about public policy and its effect on people’s lives.
What kind of work are you doing now?
I am currently working as a recruiter at the Charles Koch Institute, which is an educational organization that focuses on training talent and providing them with professional development skills. My job is to come up with recruiting strategies to find new audiences who would like to expand their professional skillset. I get to travel and meet a ton of different people as part of my job — it’s really great!
What advice can you offer to fellow alumni who want to secure a job like yours?
My role is definitely a more outward-facing role. I thought that I wanted to work in policy when I came to D.C., but I really enjoy a crazy schedule and like meeting new people. For people looking to get into a role like this, I would say don’t say no to opportunities just because you are unfamiliar with them! I never thought I would end up in a job like this but I’m very glad that I have. Also, the people that you meet are important! Everyone knows something that you don’t and being able to listen to different ideas, viewpoints and having valuable connections is key to succeeding in a role like mine. Don’t be afraid to meet new people and reach out!
What’s a change — a policy perspective, a philosophical point, a messaging strategy, anything — that you would like to see in the libertarian community?
I think that libertarians miss the mark on messaging their ideas. I hear so many people talk about theory and philosophy, which is all well and good, but the reality is that doesn’t resonate with most people. I would like to see libertarians give more practical examples of why less government is better for people. We have such wonderful ideas of freedom but cannot convey them in a meaningful manner. It’s not a surprise to me when people stop listening after hearing an explanation about how the Non-Aggression Principle will save the world — or something like that. Messaging that is more relatable would be a fantastic change.