Political position

By and

When Robert Stephenson wanted to learn more about government, he couldn’t think of a better place than Washington, D.C.

So the senior in political science accepted an internship position working at Sen. Orrin Hatch’s Washington, D.C., office with his economic staff.

“There’s nothing to compare with learning U.S. history in a place where so much history has been made,” he said.

His duties include attending press conferences, hearings and committee meetings, and assisting Hatch, R-Utah, with his finance committee responsibilities. But his favorite part of the job is being able to take Utah constituents on tours of the Capitol to teach them about all he has learned, he said.

“A typical day at the office is anything but typical,” he said.

Stephenson was picked for the internship from a large group of applicants from Utah, and Hatch said summer congressional internships are generally very tough to land. Applicants are chosen based on GPA, extra-curricular activities and other accomplishments.

“There is competition among the students, and there is competition among the various D.C. internship programs to get the best applicants,” Hatch said.

The paid internship is part of the Hinckley Institute of Politics’ internship program, and Stephenson will receive five credit hours after writing a 12- to 14-page research paper at the end of the semester.

“I appreciate everything Robert is doing for me here,” Hatch said. “He’s got a lot of focus, and he stays on target. I’m grateful to have him working in my office.”

Stephenson said the Hinckley internship has helped him feel more involved at the U.

“Some people complain that there’s no community feel at the U because it’s a ‘commuter school,’ but programs like the Hinckley Institute give students a sense of community,” he said. “I’m so glad I got involved.”

Stephenson said one of the only drawbacks to being in Washington, D.C., is the amount of time he has to see the sights.

“Every day there are new places to explore, so I’ve just tried to cut out sleep,” he said, “Getting lost has never been so fun because, inevitably, you find something extraordinary.”

After graduation in the spring, Stephenson plans to take the Foreign Service Exam to work abroad.

“Anyone who wants to learn about how politics really functions should spend some time in D.C.,” he said.