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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Want your voice to be heard? Submit a letter to the editor, send us an op-ed pitch or check out our open positions for the chance to be published by the Daily Utah Chronicle.
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Students work alongside President Young

By Jared Branch

About seven students are selected each year to work alongside University of Utah President Michael K. Young to learn the roles of administrators as they work as presidential interns in higher education.

These students, selected from a large pool of applicants, go on to learn about the inner workings of the U and how a university functions from day to day.

Because the basis of the internship is higher education, students with an expressed interest and at least a 3.2 GPA are encouraged to apply. Students can elect to receive payment or credit hours and usually work 12 to 15 hours a week.

Some presidential interns said the experience helped them plan their courses of study and settle on a career.

Laura King, a recent business graduate, said her experience in the internship helped her decide on a major and make a career choice.

“Before the internship, my major wasn’t really directed,” King said of her involvement in the internship in 2005.

After an intern meeting with community members in higher education, King decided she wanted to stay involved with the U after she graduated.

“It really inspired me?learning how helpful and motivational (leaders) could be,” King said.

King now works in the Park Building. She will soon be attending the U for a master’s in business administration.

Natasha Aguayo, a senior in human development and family studies and sociology, will be entering her second year as a presidential intern.

“If I could do it a third year I probably would, but I’ve got to graduate?plus, they probably won’t let me,” Aguayo said.

Aguayo, a first-generation college student, said she admits that both the internship and college were difficult for her at first, but both have been rewarding. Aguayo discovered the Presidential Internship through the LEAP program.

In the internships, speakers ranging from Young to leaders of the Women’s Resource Center address interns during weekly seminars to educate them on how a university operates. The seminars are a main part of the internship, giving the students one-on-one interactions with administrators.

“As a student, you don’t really get to see those perspectives (of administrators) a lot of the time, especially as an undergraduate student,” Aguayo said.

Administrators come to know the interns personally and will occasionally deal out career advice, share life experiences and prod them on their academics.

“Susan Young, the president’s wife, is always asking us if we have our homework done,” Aguayo said.

Experiences in the presidential internships are not only limited to the U campus. After the shooting at Virginia Tech, the interns attended a seminar detailing how the Virginia Tech administration reacted to the events.

Some aspects of the internship, however, can be a bit daunting. A board of administrators–the people they will be working with closely throughout the year–interviews applicants.

“I had walked in (to the interview) and there was a panel of 12 people, and they set you right up at the front,” Aguayo said of the interviewing process.

Paul Wennerstrom, the intern coordinator, said the internship is one of the most prestigious on campus. Wennerstrom, a senior in political science and economics, is finishing his second year in the program.

The internship is centered in the Park Building, a building in Presidents’ Circle that houses Young’s and other administrators’ offices.

“The Park Building is kind of mysterious to students; they never come in here,” Wennerstrom said.

Though most of Wennerstrom’s days are filled with photocopying and opening mail, it is through these mundane tasks that he learns how the U works relative to the state and the community.

Wennerstrom, like King, is considering a career in higher education. He plans on attending graduate school in law and eventually entering into university administration. The internship has helped him along his career path.

“It changed my life,” Wennerstrom said, referring to the internship as a whole.

Presidential interns also attend events held at the university president’s house. During these events, anyone from Supreme Court justices to UN ambassadors have been known to attend.

During one experience, two Iraqi women visited to raise money for a radio station they owned, which was one of five in the entire country. Wennerstrom was able to talk with them about their situation in Iraq.

The next round of presidential interns will be starting during Fall Semester. Aguayo offered this new round of hopefuls some advice.

“Get to know the people you work with,” Aguayo said, referring to the administration at the U. “They’re very knowledgeable people–they’ve been there before.”

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