By Kris Kitto - 04/01/08 04:02 PM EDT
Sara McElroy should be a lot less happy about her new job on the Hill.
Earlier this year, she left a company that practically required her to eat daily portions of free, premium ice cream mixed with ingredients like fudge and Oreo cookies to become Sen. Mike EnziMike EnziRestive GOP freshmen eye entitlement reform Overnight Energy: Obama integrates climate change into national security planning Senate panel approves pension rescue for coal miners MORE’s (R-Wyo.) press assistant.
McElroy, a native of Pueblo, Colo., moved to Washington, D.C., in January from Scottsdale, Ariz., where she worked in the communications department at the headquarters of the national ice cream store Cold Stone Creamery.
She would eat ice cream concoctions at least three times a week, and estimates that she sampled hundreds of different flavor combinations.
Her current favorite?
“It’s cookie-batter ice cream, so it kind of tastes like cookie dough-flavored ice cream, and then you add in chocolate chips and caramel,” she says. “Fantastic.”
So the ice cream in the Senate cafeteria doesn’t even compare, right?
“Well, I’ve taken to the yogurt machine downstairs. I definitely enjoy that,” she says. (Take note: She’s aspiring to be good at public relations.)
McElroy, 23, has a background in spinning consumer products. During her first two years of college at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, she interned for the international public relations firm Manning, Selvage and Lee, where she worked on a product that’s not nearly as appetizing to humans: Friskies cat food.
Just as her future work for Cold Stone played into her love for ice cream, the Friskies account struck a chord.
“I’m a cat fan. I have a one-eyed cat at home. Her name is Kitty,” she says. Kitty, an adopted stray, came to her family when they began building a new home in Gillette, Wyo., where McElroy grew up. The construction site attracted the cat and the family soon took her in. They also have two dogs, one that’s deaf and another that’s going blind.
After beginning college in Los Angeles, McElroy transferred to Arizona State University in Tempe, Ariz., conveniently located near Cold Stone’s corporate offices. Already in love with the ice cream store, she convinced them to hire her as an intern.
A study-abroad experience in Athens, Greece, prompted an interest in politics.
While there, she paid close attention to the Greek government and realized she also had an interest in American government.
“You can definitely see that a country — its culture, its traditions — is a reflection of government and vice versa,” she says. “And … it piqued my interest, certainly, in the workings of our government here.”
She returned to Arizona to work for Cold Stone for six more months before a high school friend who works in Enzi’s office alerted her to the press-assistant vacancy.
No longer tasting ice cream or marketing cat food, McElroy now helps write news releases and the senator’s newsletter and works on the website.
“There’ve been a lot of unexpected opportunities that have come my way,” she says. “I wouldn’t have thought I would have gone to Greece or that I’d be here in Washington, D.C., right now, but it’s fun how life works, and these opportunities sometimes land in your lap.”