George Washington once said, “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government… And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?” Brigham Young University understands this and, to further political education, has an internship program with the Utah State Legislature.
FHSS Political Science professor Dr. Adam Brown, faculty advisor of the project, says that its purpose is to teach students “how to run a state. The Utah State Legislature is comprised of seventy-five representatives and twenty-nine senators…who only meet for seven weeks out of the year. During that time, they have to pass all of the year’s laws. With a few exceptions, these legislators have no personal staff. In Washington, each legislator has thirty to forty staff and all year to get their work done. The Utah representatives and senators do two to three times the amount of work in a much shorter time, and with no staff, than the national legislature does.” Therefore, interns are able to get a good amount of resume-building experience during their time at the Capitol.
A Student’s Perspective
Former intern Trevor Guy can attest to that: “I was the sole assistant to Senator [Lincoln] Fillmore during the legislative session. My duties included: maintaining the daily schedule, arranging meetings with other government officials such as fellow state senators and state school board members, obtaining and distributing documents necessary for the Senator’s committee meetings, managing the Senator’s daily blog, coordinating a lunch the Senator had with county delegates from his district. I also would attend committee hearings, town hall meetings the Senator held, and Senate floor deliberations but my main responsibility was constituent correspondence. I would answer most, if not all, of the Senator’s phone calls, emails and physical mail.”
Student intern Jenessa Taylor did similar tasks. Working with committees and on the House floor, she learned much through her experiences. She added that the internship was extremely valuable in that she had ample one-on-one time with Majority Leader Jim Bennigan.
There is another, less obvious, benefit from this internship: it gets women involved in politics. Political Science student Rachel Finlayson says, “…politics are a means of dialogue, of improving society, and of championing ethics and freedom of choice.” Encouraging women to become active in government will empower them and other women they come in contact with. She adds, “…as American citizens, our responsibility should be to help women to see politics as an option for them.” The Utah State Legislature Internship accomplishes this.
What About You?
Jenessa and Trevor offer the following advice to incoming and prospective interns:
- Take a lot of initiative. Be involved and take everything as far as you can.
- Read Dr. Adam Brown’s book Utah Politics Under the Dome: Representation and the Utah Legislature. It can really help you understand and navigate the political scene during your internship.
- Get to know the other interns; you may form lifelong friendships.
- Eat it all up. Get involved in every way that you can. Go to every event or program that interests you.
- Go the breakfasts hosted by the House Rural Caucus. According to Trevor, “they have the best bacon I have ever had.”
Currently, the Utah State Legislature internship is ongoing. However, if you wish to participate, you can visit the FHSS Internship Office located in room 945 of the SWKT. Application and deadline information can be found here.
Have you ever done an internship?