Internship Spotlight - Washington Seminar - Winter 2016

The Washington Seminar selects well-qualified students from all majors to have an applied learning experience in Washington, D.C. Through a quality internship, briefings on current national issues, tours, and excursions, interns gain a valuable supplement to their academic training and the chance to be better prepared for their careers. If you are a BYU student and would like to apply to the Washington Seminar, click here.

The following three students who interned in Winter 2016 are a few of the examples of the kinds of opportunities available to BYU students:

Rachel Warner

Major: Public Health; Health Promotion | Minor: Communications
Internship Organization: American Heart Association ( | Position: Advocacy Intern

I assisted the advocacy department in researching health legislation and drafting letters to both community members and legislators, encouraging them to support legislation that would potentially decrease heart and stroke risk factors in the District of Columbia. The American Heart Association conducts events to improve the health of the community, such as cooking demonstrations, and my fellow interns and I were able to instruct community members on how to prepare a simple, healthy meal. I also helped with several fund-raising and awareness-raising events, including National Wear Red Day, Heart's Delight Wine Auction, and Heart Walk. My department worked very closely with the Department of Health, and we participated in meetings with other community health organizations. I was able to meet public health professionals from several community and national organizations.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?
Honestly, the most useful thing I learned was how public health is involved in local government. I didn't realize how much non-governmental organizations impact legislator's decision-making.

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why?
Absolutely. The American Heart Association tailors their internship program in a way that benefits participants almost as much as it benefits them. I feel like the training and experience I received from my supervisor was invaluable.

Anything else?
This internship was the most exciting experience of my life. I fell in love with the people at American Heart Association, but most of all I fell in love with Washington, D.C. The friends I made will be lifelong friends, and I would recommend Washington Seminar to anyone.

Rachel Warner in Washington DC

Rachel Warner (Center) demonstrating healthy food habits for American Heart Assocation

Phillip Fernberg

Major: Latin American Studies | Minor: Scandinavian Studies, Urban and Regional Planning

Internship Organization: Library of Congress-Hispanic Division | Position: HLAS Intern


I helped prepare content for the Handbook of Latin American Studies (HLAS), an annotated bibliography of academic research related to Latin America. I assisted the co-editors by adding annotations to existing HLAS bibliographic records, tracking and managing mailings to the HLAS Contributing Editors, and managing book pickups from cataloging / and acquisitions locations. I also helped in the process of digitizing and putting pre-internet editions of the handbook on the web.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?

I found it extremely useful to learn both the basic and more nuanced functions of a governmental organization. Since I have thought about spending part of my career in public service, it was good to get a feel for how things work at the federal level.

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why?

Absolutely! Between going to work in one of the coolest historic buildings in DC every day, living in Foggy Bottom with the Washington Seminar program, and the great work with even greater people, what's not to like!

Anything else?

I will be forever grateful for the experience!

Inside of the Library of Congress

Phillip Fernberg's tags on books at the Library of Congress

Alison Romano

Major: Political Science | Minor: French
Internship Organization: Embassy of Canada | Position: Foreign and Defense Policy Intern

I worked for the Embassy of Canada in Washington, DC researching and reporting on US and foreign policy concerning Canada and Canadian interests. I was able to inform different Canadian missions around the world on US foreign and defense policy, and assist Foreign Service Officers in maintaining good diplomatic ties with their US counterparts. I also had the opportunity to create itineraries and escort high-level diplomats on their visits to the US.

What was the most useful thing you learned from your internship?
I learned how a government functions abroad, and the relevance of good diplomatic ties between countries in the maintenance of trade and policy negotiations. I also learned how to use what I've learned at BYU to work hard and produce results in a professional setting.

Would you recommend this internship to other students? Why?
This internship was the highlight of my experience at BYU. I was able to reconnect with my Canadian roots while immersed in the most powerful city in the world. Rubbing shoulders with Prime Ministers and Supreme Court justices were opportunities that I may never get again, and I would recommend any international student to take advantage of a similar experience in learning how to appreciate the ways in which countries can work together and create progress while maintaining separate and unique identities.

Anything else?
Do Washington Seminar! If not for the classes and amazing location, do it for the internship. You won't regret it.

Alison Romano Photo at Canadian Embassy

Alison Romano (Left) with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court