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Shaping Public Opinion

January 2022

Family, Home, and Social Sciences

Female student in front of building

For political science student Kesley Powell, many of the most important experiences of her BYU career weren’t in a classroom. A recent internship at a public opinion and market research firm in Washington, DC, really opened her eyes to how data can be used in political messaging.

“Say someone wanted to pass a bill next year— they would come to a firm like the one I was at to figure out what public opinion is on that subject,” she says. Learning the ins and outs of message testing— the process of figuring out which of several strategic messages is most influential—has also helped her figure out her own future.

“I became really passionate about data,” she says, “and I’ve become a lot more certain of what I want to do and who I want to be because of this experience.”

Powell was part of the BYU Washington Seminar. During most semesters, about 40 students participate in the seminar and experience Washington, DC, while interning in jobs related to their fields of study. BYU’s Milton A. Barlow Center is home base for the seminar. Internships help students like Powell make valuable connections in real-world settings.