Soren Schmidt, Brigham Young University

Last summer, the McManus Washington Internship Scholarship made it possible for

me to intern with the personal staff of Senator Jeff Flake (AZ) in Washington,

D.C. Although studying political science had given me plenty of opportunities to learn about

Congress from afar, it was no substitute for witnessing—and even participating in—the

processes of lawmaking firsthand.

The great thing about being an intern is that you can volunteer to help wherever

needed, which gives you broad exposure to the real-life workings of institutions you may

have previously only read about academically. During my internship with Senator Flake, I

had the chance to work on projects dealing with each of the functions of legislative staff:

producing reports and research on government spending, interfacing with other offices,

communicating with the press, and providing services to constituents.

Having a summer in D.C. also provided several additional benefits. The city and

surrounding regions are exceptionally rich centers of culture and history. I spent countless

hours exploring everywhere from the Smithsonian museums to Gettysburg to the local

indie music scene. Perhaps even more importantly, I made many new friends in

government, advocacy, and the private sector who helped me learn more about

professional possibilities related to political science.

It’s hard to overstate the collective value of these experiences. The hands-on work,

exposure to new ideas, and opportunities for networking made the summer internship

invaluable. In fact, I liked it so much that I’m planning on returning to D.C. again

this summer.