USU students serve internships in nation's capital
Published: Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 16:01
In a competitive job market, many students are looking for ways to improve their resumes, gain work experience and ultimately find a career. Three students combined all these goals in their recent foray into the world of politics, business and professional world by interning in big firms and politicians’ offices.
USU students who have completed internships in Washington, D.C. have many stories to tell about their time on the East Coast.
“For me, a big eye-opening experience was going out to a new place and seeing a different part of our country,” said Dani Richards, a sophomore studying business administration.
Richards worked for the Larrison Group LLC, a political fundraising group.
“In Utah, we’re in a bubble, so it was really refreshing to go out to the East Coast,” she said. “It was a totally different pace.”
USU owns housing in Washington, so all the students who are interning stay together.
“No matter what you’re studying, you can get an internship out there and get the experience and live with USU kids,” said Valerie Anderson, a junior majoring in accounting and economics. “It’s great.”
Anderson worked in the office of Rep. Rob Bishop and was responsible for responding to mail from people who live in the Utah representative’s district.
Having friends with connections can be a powerful tool to jump-start anyone’s career path, according to Madison Bell, a junior majoring in political science and Mandarin Chinese. She said she knows she has this advantage because of the time she spent on Capitol Hill.
“The connections you make are invaluable,” she said.
Bell was an intern in the office of Sen. Orrin Hatch.
“No matter what your major is, I would encourage every single person at USU and any other school to take part in the D.C. internship,” she said. “You always think of congressional internships, but there are so many internships in D.C. People don’t really get that.”
Though Anderson, Bell and Richards were enthusiastic about their experiences, each had a different opinion on what it was like to adjust from the life of a student to the life of an intern. “It was really hard for me to adjust to that kind of work environment because it was so fast-paced and a lot was expected of me,” Richards said.
Despite the high expectations, Richards said the transition was easy in some ways.
“It was really easy to slip into being an intern because you’re making money,” she said. “You get to come home and don’t have to do homework, and it’s playtime, really.”
The benefits of working in D.C. don’t end there. Richards said potential employers who see work experience such as this are sure to be impressed by the dedication and work ethic of those who stood the test of Washington.
“I was basically my bosses’ personal assistant,” Richards said. “I did everything from getting the mail to getting lunch to booking flights.”
She also helped arrange events, projects and database work.
Bell said all these responsibilities being handled by young people was part of the culture of Washington.
“D.C. altogether is a very young and fresh part of the country. You have to have young, energetic people to be in politics,” Bell said.
Anderson said she’d love to go back to D.C. eventually.
“I would definitely be OK with living in D.C. for a few years,” Anderson said. “No matter what your major or career path, there is an internship that can help you get there.”