Leavitt Center

Our Interns: In Their Own Words

Olyvia - Senior Business Mgmt Major - State Legislature

"I had no idea what I was missing. When I first came to SUU, I focused solely on my grades. Semester after semester I worked for straight A's and fought the constant battle of choosing the "right major." I didn't like college. It was unfulfilling. I turned my attention away from campus and sought purpose elsewhere. The subsequent semesters my grades began to slip. I wasn't invested in school anymore. I wasn't excited about it. It felt like this never-ending chore. Then one day I walked into the Leavitt Center on campus to ask about a flyer I had seen. Politics had always interested me and as Eric Kirby talked about the internship opportunities at the State Legislature I could feel the excitement building within. I walked out of the Leavitt Center and immediately started working on my application. I wanted that internship.

"In retrospect I see that the internship was a turning point in my academic life. On Capitol Hill I found purpose again. I was excited about what I was learning. I was able to see first-hand how bills were passed. I spoke with legislators and sat in committee meetings. I even was able to help with the state of Utah's amicus brief in the Amendment 3 debates! I had no idea that I could learn so much in such a fun way. My internship lit a fire within me that has stayed with me since it ended. I came home and attended my caucus meeting for my precinct. I joined student government on campus. I am an active member of SUU College Republicans. My internship brought some life back into my college experience and I will be forever grateful for that."

Bailey - MPA Student - DC

"On any “bucket list” I’ve ever written, an internship in Washington, DC has been at the top of the list. My interest in politics, government and communications has always seemed to draw me to this place, but other commitments and financial worries kept me from getting here until now. Thanks to the Leavitt Center, I have the opportunity to work in the office of Representative Jim Matheson this summer and fulfill my dream of living and working in Washington, DC. In the short amount of time I have been here, I have learned more about the legislative process, the inner-workings of a congressional office and public relations than any textbook could ever teach. My time as an undergraduate at SUU was filled with learning and growth outside of the classroom, but this internship is the ultimate experiential learning opportunity. Working in Representative Matheson’s office has allowed me to immerse myself in a fast-paced work environment and learn first hand about possible career paths within government. I have learned invaluable problem solving, writing, communication, and research skills that have helped me develop professionally and become a more detail-oriented and organized employee.  More than just a check off my bucket list, this internship has shaped me into a more professional, self-motivated person and inspired a possible future career in politics and public service."

Dillon - Senior English Major - Cedar City Corp.

"My internship at the City was an invaluable professional experience. As I became involved with the Leavitt Center I became more aware of the local community. My internship with the city manager, Rick Holman, greatly enhanced my personal connection to Cedar City and my understanding of local politics. I became so interested in the elections and learned so much as we hosted the local debates on campus.
I came to appreciate how the local community benefited from terrific leaders as I attended regular town council meetings. Rick was a great mentor to me during my internship, and the internship opportunity as strengthened my resolve to become more involved in my local community. This internship helped me build transferable skills, which I currently use as a Global Compliance Analyst at Goldman Sachs."

Neal - Senior Political Science Major - State Legislature

"My first year at SUU I applied for the internship at the Capitol and was not accepted because three applicants had already been chosen. Once I had decided to study pre-med, I didn’t bother reapplying for the State internship feeling my time would be better spent shadowing local physicians and focusing on my coursework. I struggled with the idea of leaving school for a semester, missing out on labs, and taking time away from work at a time when I was trying to wrap up school, my wife was expecting, and our financial flexibility was limited.

"While at the Capitol, I tried to evaluate as many possible career paths in health care as possible. I picked the brain of Rep. Stewart Barlow, an Otolaryngologist (ENT), but also asked many questions of Rep. Sanpei, VP of Strategic Planning for IHC, to see the advantages/lifestyle of a corporate/administrative career in health care. Working with Rep. Sanpei, I also gained a first-hand appreciation of the impacts policy can have in the lives of individuals and families. Most of my experiences with policy dealt with Medicaid expansion, a topic I frequently addressed when responding to emails and inquiries about the House plan to close the coverage gap for the uninsured/underinsured. All of these experiences reinforced my commitment to the field of medicine."

Jamie - Senior Criminal Justice Major Sociology Minor - DC

"My internship in DC was one of the best decisions I ever made, not just because I met my husband there, though that is a definite bonus! But also because I developed a new passion and love for the legislative process. While there I was able to work on pieces of legislation and research for bills, along with several other duties such as corresponding with constituents, creating presentations and briefing other offices and bodies, hold meetings with lobbyists, and coordinate and rub shoulders with people who do things that matter. When I first got out there I wasn't sure initially how I would fit in with the politics and legislation, as I was mainly studying the application of the law rather than the creation of it. What I found was that I loved the experience. The job taught me so much about legislation and research, but also the dynamics of the government. The professional atmosphere that I was exposed to helped me to build on my skills and also taught me some new ones that I am sure I couldn't have learned anywhere else."

Dylan - Junior Graphic Design Major - Marketing

"Interning for the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service at SUU has been an absolutely fabulous experience. I have had the opportunity to develop and design all of the advertising for the past semesters events and activities which has been extremely beneficial as a graphic design major. It has taught me time management, how to work with various clientele, and has also helped me develop professionally in dress, speech, and character. I have absolutely loved every minute of this experience, as well as the people I have been able to work with, and cannot wait to continue with it next fall!"

Dallan - Junior Communications Major PR Emphasis - State Legislature

"The internship with the State Legislature meant everything to me. It was such a great learning experience to see how the political world worked and it changed my whole view on what I want to do as a professional. Before I did it I was thinking possibly broadcasting and I was ready to transfer to Weber State because of the opportunities that being at a bigger school up North had. Then I talked to Eric Kirby about the internships and what they could do for me. Going up there did a lot for me as right after that I was able to get an internship for a year in Senator Hatch's office in Cedar City and work there for a year while I was going to school."

Hilary - MPA Student - Cedar City Corp.

"My internship with the city manager has helped me exponentially by gaining real life experiences and knowledge that I will continue to apply now and in the future. This internship has allowed me to gain a broader understanding of how a city functions properly, with each area making specific contributions that provide a positive environment. I have been able to receive experiential learning through this
internship that has allowed me to gain a unique perspective on what my passions are and what I want to further pursue with my education in.

"This opportunity has granted me access to meet with incredible people on a one-to-one level that constantly teach and inspire me to become better. I am able to see first-hand the passion each individual has for their career and am able to network with those individuals that impact are city tremendously."

Wade - Junior Biology Major - DC

"Completing an internship with Congressman Stewart's office in D.C. was easily one of the best academic decisions I have ever made. The things I learned about government, politics, and leadership are immeasurable. My communication skills, ability to connect with others, and determination also increased. While living in D.C., I was able to interact with people from all over the world who have backgrounds very different from my own. I was also able to pick the brain of Congressman Stewart, his staff members, and the people who came by his office to visit. I was able to make a lot of connections, get career advice, have fun, and further develop skills that will help me with any future job."

Brian - Junior CAD/CAM Engineering Technology Major - Metalcraft

"I had recently changed majors from art to science and was seriously struggling to picture where my life was headed. Thanks to the Leavitt Center and the excellent support they were willing to offer I was given the opportunity to intern within my new career field. Gaining a foothold in the aerospace manufacturing field is no easy feat in Southern Utah but with the Leavitt Center willing to pay for my training time the company had no reason to say anything but yes. I don't know if they would have been able to find the space for me without the support of the Leavitt Center. But thanks to that support, I have now been working for this company close to a year and have become one of their specialized planning engineers. I can hardly begin to share the growth and learning I have gained from being employed in an actual engineering field while I finish my degree. This wonderful experience has helped redefine my direction in my education, my profession, and my personal goals for the next decade or two. Not only that, but I will graduate with multiple years of full time experience, in my field, which will make me a very marketable addition to any team. I'm so grateful for the assistance and support I have received from the Leavitt Center. They helped me prepare for, accept, and overcome every hurdle I faced when breaking into new circles or trying new things. Without them I doubt my future would be anywhere near so bright."

John - Senior English Major w/ Literature Emphasis - DC

"When I got to DC, I found myself working on research projects, watching and doing write-ups for hearings and senate business, and working on team projects. My people skills were very useful as I chose to give tours of the Capitol, from which our office received multiple letters of thanks. Also, my skills as an English major were useful, and I was able to draft several issues of a monthly newsletter, letters to constituents (such as local politicians or the Postmaster General), and I even drafted two speeches for the senator. I did not find myself doing busy work, I was not looked down on for being an intern (important to say as it seemed that some offices were not so gracious), and the entire experience left a lasting impression on me -one that will stay with me.

"In my opinion, experiences like this are the ones that set students apart. They have the biggest payoff in securing job placement and graduate school acceptance. I am especially glad for the encouragement of the Leavitt Center in applying for this internship. I hope to see more students from SUU fill these prestigious positions. Having just graduated, I look back on my internship as perhaps the most influential single academic pursuit of my college career."

Aimee - Senior Accounting Major - MSC Aerospace

"Through the Leavitt Center I was able to do an internship with MSC Aerospace doing accounting. It was a very important learning experience that helped me to understand that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do. As the intern I was often left with jobs that no one else wanted, myself included. I found that as I happily accepted any work that needed to be done I was trusted with projects that I may not have been trusted with otherwise and by the end was doing work that a regular staff could have done. You have to start at the bottom to get to the top.

"This was my first job actually doing accounting and it helped me to feel confident in my ability to actually apply the things that I had been learning in my classes. It showed me a possible career and helped me to make valuable connections."

Chanel - Junior Exercise Science & Nutrition Major - DC

"I was an intern for Senator Hatch in Fall of 2013. I’m not a Political Science major, which most of the interns in DC are, I’m going into Exercise Science and Nutrition. When going to DC, I wanted to learn more about what the government was do with health care, growing obesity rate and fighting disease with nutrition. After, spending the fall there I learned a great deal about how the government looks at these topics. I also learned how people are just uneducated in health, since then I decided that I wanted to help people understand how to live healthy lifestyle. One way I can achieve that is going into health policy."

Philip - Senior Finance Major - State Legislature

"To me, being an intern with the Senate was a capstone to my education. As I graduated from SUU with my degree in Finance, my experience enhanced my resume and left me well prepared for the application process.  I finished my experience with a greater understanding and interest in politics.  Because I finished school prior to the session, I was not able to take any political science classes but that doesn't mean I'm done with the political world."

Courtney - Junior HR & Hospitality Mgmt Major - Braithwaite Arts Gallery

"I had a very eye opening and unforgettable experience while interning at the Braithwaite Gallery here on campus. My love for museums and education only grew throughout my semester internship. I was able to participate in multiple activities ranging from cutting out paper plates into skull shapes, to leading school tours, to keeping inventory, to designing and curating a gift shop.
My favorite parts of the internship were when I had the opportunities to dig deeper and discover what interested me, and even more importantly, where I wanted to take my career. Keeping inventory and ensuring that the art pieces were in proper condition was very important to the success of the gallery and it made me feel important and appreciated. Designing the gift shop was an incredible and memorable experience. I was able to use my skills and talents to make the area beautiful and welcoming. I am so grateful for the Leavitt Center and for their generous assistance. I would not have had the success educationally or professionally that I have had without their assistance and support."

Ingela - Junior History & Political Science Double Major - DC

"The experience offered to me through Southern Utah University and the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service was exciting, a little nerve racking (at least at first), and incredibly affirming.
Having been interested in politics and government for years, when Senator Harry Reid's office called and offered me an internship my excitement was not to be contained. Had it not been for the Leavitt Center’s support, I find it unlikely I would have made this experience possible.

"While a few other interns I worked with and met expressed reactions opposite to my own, my experience in our nation's capital only confirmed that this is what I want to go into - what I want to do for the rest of my life. It was an incredible experience. I gained new skills, for instance producing concise and coherent reports on briefings and hearings I attended for senior legislative staff. There were some less-than-glamorous tasks as well, but I was happy to do anything which proved me to be reliable early on and resulted in better assignments and good relationships with senior staff. My departure at the end of the semester was a heart-felt one. All in all, the experience was an overwhelmingly positive one and gave me invaluable skills for the kind of future I envision for myself."

Courtney - Senior Political Science & Economics Major - State Legislature

"Many people in Utah view staffers, lobbyists, and politicians as evil people driven solely by money and power. I learned first-hand that this isn’t the case. Yes money and power are a motivation for people to enter that line of work, but it is not the only reason and it is not an entirely bad thing. I have a lot of respect for everyone in the Hatch office and I know them to be hardworking individuals who care about the state of Utah. Interning in Washington D.C. was a life changing experience that taught me things I could not possibly detail in this paper. It was the best experience of my life so far. I am grateful for the opportunity and am looking forward to having more adventures in the future."

Ginny - Senior Communications Major - DC

"Right now I send this report to you from our nation's capitol; while doing an internship with Sen. Mike Lee's office last fall, I fell in love with Washington DC and decided this is where I need to be. I met amazing friends and built relationships with the wonderful staff members in Sen. Lee's office. These connections have already helped me find work and I hope they will help me return to the hill soon. As an intern, I had the opportunity to work closely with the press office. I realized that working with them combined two of my passions, journalism and politics. The neatest experience as an intern was when I was helped pick constituent quotes from one of his websites. Those words were used in a floor speech that I got to hear from the gallery. I hope to get a job as a press assistant as I accrue experience."

Paige - Junior Business Mgmt Major - Cedar City Corp.

"Over the past 2 years, I have had the opportunity to be extensively involved in the internship program provided by the Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics and Public Service. Through the center I have been able to intern with Cedar City Corp.’s City Manager and Economic Development, SUU’s Regional Services, performed voting behavior research for federal organizations, shadow lobbyists and SUU’s government relations officer during the Utah Legislative Session, and serve as the Student Director for the center.  The internship program offered by the Leavitt Center provided me with a wide range of diversity to best suit my goals of exploring a future career; specifically narrowing my focus towards a desire to give back within the realm of higher education and local politics.

"As a result of these internships, I feel more comfortable, prepared and capable then my fellow classmates to enter the professional world. My internships put me in positions where I had to speak with political dignitaries, present to department chairs, and pitch ideas to corporate heads, all of which used to be too intimidating to even consider. Without this experiential learning I never would have had the opportunity to grow and develop as a leader, a pursuit I intend to continue for the rest of my life."

Mack - Junior Actuarial Science Major - State Legislature

"I was fortunate enough to be selected to intern with the Utah State Legislature for the 2014 Legislative Session.  Being able to see firsthand the processes behind how our government works was a valuable experience to me.  After conducting the internship, I feel so much more knowledgeable about the problems facing our state.  When students and community members come by the Center, I am able to carry on a much more informed and enlightening conversation.  It has also helped me realize that I can have a fulfilling career and still be involved in politics.  I met many professionals who take 45 days out of their busy schedule to represent their communities as well as many lobbyists who work professionally and then find their way into the political side of their field for the duration of the session.  I might like to try and intern with lobbyists at the Capitol sometime to get a feel for what their side of the equation is like."

Jill - Senior English Education Major - DC

"It is difficult to define exactly what I learned from interning in Congressman Stewart's office because I learned so much. A lot of my work in DC had to do with soft skills which I'm realizing are more and more important in the work force. Throughout the summer, I spoke with hundreds of constituents, drafted communications, gave tours of the National Capitol Building (one of my favorite things to do), learned how to identify problems as well as solve them, became the go-to person for staff projects and help; I worked my tail off, and loved every minute of it. I was happy to go to work every morning, which is something not everyone is lucky enough to say.

"Even though I am an English Education major and have a job as a tenth grade English teacher for next year, it was hard to stay committed to my major after interning in DC. There were opportunities to find work out in DC that I would really enjoy. Even though I've always wanted to be a teacher, I really loved working in the House of Representatives and learning bucket-loads every day. I was blessed to be in an office where the staff welcomed questions from the interns and were glad to sit and talk with us during lunch hour. Learning to be humble enough to ask questions all the time made for a really transformative experience. I found I was fascinated by government and politics. Though I'm committed to being a teacher, I have been greatly blessed to have enjoyed a summer in DC. This is an experience that helped get me my teaching job and has shaped my view of our country as a whole. I am deeply grateful for the Leavitt Center's help. I hope the Leavitt Center can continue to aid future students in enriching their lives with this type of invaluable experiential education."

Stetson - Junior Economics Major - State Legislature

"I am extremely grateful that I had the opportunity to intern at both the State Senate of Utah as well as for the City Manager for Cedar City, Utah. Being able to meet and work with such accomplished individuals and organizations has helped me vastly as I have sought to find more direction on my career goals and aspirations. While working with Senator Evan Vickers during the legislative session, I was actually able to find a new possible career. With his professional background as a pharmacist I was able to be heavily involved with a lot of healthcare legislation and meet many healthcare administrative professionals. Without this internship, I would not have been able to meet these individuals; an opportunity which opened the door into a field I never would have been able to enter on my own."