State and Federal Legislature Rife with Internship Opportunities for CHSS Students

State and Federal Legislature Rife with Internship Opportunities for CHSS Students

Internships are a great way for UVU students to apply their hard-earned skills in a real-world situation. For several students in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, an internship with state and federal politicians was a dream come true. 

Spencer Nilsson, for example, is a political science major who will be graduating in May 2020. He decided to pursue a political science major after taking a class on international relations and absolutely loving it.

“The political science curriculum strikes a nice balance between breadth and depth,” said Nilsson. “I’ve taken classes that, while not mission-critical to my career, were fascinating and absolutely worthwhile. I’ve also taken classes that have taught me skills that are nearly always relevant to my career. UVU as a whole has great facilities and provides plentiful opportunities for engaged learning.”

Nilsson is working as a legislative intern with the Utah State Legislature. He says he feels lucky to work in the state legislature with a representative that's interested in tech policy. “A congressional internship is probably the best shot I’ve had at getting a foot in the door to the public policy landscape,” he said. “In these internships, you run into people involved with all parts of said landscape and, as the adage goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” He said he hopes to transition into a full-time policy analyst after the session.

Curtis Miller, also a political science major, has been serving as an intern to the Jeff Burningham campaign for Utah governor. He said he has always been intrigued by politics because of how people react and how politics gives a public forum for a variety of different perspectives.  

“[This internship] was one of the best experiences of my life,” Miller said. “I was able to intimately see the law-making process, learn what I wanted to do in life, at least for right now, make a lot of new friends, and connect with a lot of interesting people to help jump-start my future career.

“I learned I wanted to be a policymaker, which is what I set out to do. I learned how to write professionally, and what politics are going on in Utah statewide.”

Jakell Larsen, internship manager for the Office of Engaged Learning at UVU, says high-impact internships like the Utah State Legislature can really elevate a student’s resume.

“Utah State Legislative interns act as a pseudo chief of staff to a legislator during the 45-day legislative session,” says Larsen. “They are tasked with managing schedules, correspondence on behalf of the legislator, bill tracking, public relations, and much more. These students gain incredible experience that they are able to take with them on their resume well after they graduate. I cannot think of a better use of a student’s time than to complete multiple internships that give them a competitive edge in the job market.”

Britt Olson, a political science major who will graduate in December, is currently completing her third political internship. She said she initially became interested in political science thanks to a recommendation from her sister — also a political science major.

“[My political science degree] has helped open doors for many different opportunities and internships that have helped me progress toward my dream career,” she said. “It has shaped me and guided me toward opportunities I have never even thought of before.”

After completing an internship at the Utah State Legislature, Olson wanted to continue her work in the public field. “I have always loved D.C. and wanted to see how the government works on a larger scale.  I loved it, I was able to work directly with the staffers and talk to Congressman Curtis. I worked a lot with constituents and it was incredibly exciting to be in such a fast-paced environment.”

Erin Dunyon, an English major who transferred to UVU from BYU, decided to pursue English because she believes it will allow her to explore a variety of different career paths and opportunities. She says that you get out of an internship what you put into it. “If you seek to go above and beyond, the connections you make and experiences you’ll have will be all the more invaluable.”



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