By Madeline Brewer ’23

Izzy Smith ’24 left her internship at the Aspen Institute with a new outlook and a yearning to learn more “about everything.”

Smith’s exposure to business, politics and history lessons inspired her to fulfill her dream of moving to Europe. The finance major from Washington, N.C., plans to apply to graduate schools this fall in Prague, Czech Republic.

The Aspen Institute is a nonprofit organization with a mission to realize a free, just and equitable society. It seeks to drive change through dialogue, leadership and action to help solve the most important challenges facing the United States and the world. Smith decided to intern at Aspen after hearing from former Aspen interns about their experiences.

Smith’s internship was with the Conference Services department. The goal of this team was organizing and managing events spanning from 150 to 3,000 attendees.

Smith assisted the AV teams, ensured speakers were at the right venue, helped speakers and guests if they had questions and ran microphones to the audience for Q&As. When there was not an event on campus, she helped the team prepare for the next event.

“I was able to listen to some of the discussions happening at events and hear new ideas be presented, resolutions to conflicts and much more,” Smith says. “I left Aspen with new business ideas, a broadened exposure to politics, various history lessons and a deeper appreciation for different perspectives.”

Garrett Vernon ’24, a finance major from Elkin, N.C., interned in the institute’s Society of Fellows Department, which handles donations and grants.

“Our goal was to make our donors feel appreciated, because they’re members of the program,” Vernon says. “We hosted private dinners, receptions, cocktail hours and breakfast hours for only members and potential members as well.”

Smith and Vernon say they were amazed by the connections they were able to form with the wide variety of people they met, with Vernon especially noting his growth in his ability to network with people who lead very different lives from his own.

“I feel like throughout the next year or five years or 10 years, it’ll be an experience that I could still draw from,” Vernon says. “I’m extremely glad I did it.”