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