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Student Spotlights

John Wilson

Spring/Summer 2017

Becker Friedman Institute of Economics--University of Chicago​

Before starting his senior year, John Wilson was trying to decide between pursuing a PhD in economics and working in the private sector. After hearing about the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at University of Chicago internship through the department email blasts and from a friend, he thought it would be a great way to gain more insight into what a PhD is like and decided to apply.

Unlike most internships, this internship consisted of a seven-week-long, intensive academic program (so John was paid to learn!) He had classes from 8:00am to 12:00pm every day, and then he spent the rest of the day working on homework focused on macroeconomic modeling, mathematics, and coding in Python. It was extremely challenging, and he worked with economic models that are usually only taught in PhD programs.

Though the work was very difficult, John really enjoyed the learning environment. He also says that the most rewarding part of his internship was meeting and getting to know the other interns. "I met several people who I've since bumped into at economics conferences, and it's great to already have a working relationship with these successful people with whom I share interests."

John now works as a pre-doctoral researcher at the Becker Friedman Institute and was hired by one of the guest lecturers he met during his internship last summer. He would highly recommend this internship to anyone considering pursuing a PhD in economics. ​

​Connor Lee-Wen

Spring/Summer 2017

Marcus & Millichap--Salt Lake City, UT​

Connor Lee-Wen knew he wanted to pursue an internship in commercial real estate, but there weren't many jobs listed online. Since he couldn't find any interships in the industry, he started cold calling companies that interested him, and he was offered an internship with Marcus & Milllichap in Salt Lake City.

During his internship, Connor worked on multi-million dollar real estate deals. This included filling out purchase and sales contracts, finding listed properties, and managing databases, among other tasks. He also learned how uncertain the industry can be. He explains, "Agency work is commission-based. So, if we don't do deals, we don't get paid. That's scary when things aren't moving through the pipeline the way you'd like."

Though Connor​ enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the commercial real estate industry, the best part of his internship was working under a great agent. He says, "Being able to rub shoulders with him almost every day and see how he strategizes these deals really has made an impact on me."

Since interning during summer 2017, Connor has started his own multifamily private equity firm ( He is also working at Marcus & Millichap as an assistant to the agent he interned for while he finishes his economics degree.

Thomas Clawson

Spring/Summer 2016-Winter 2018

Lucid Software--West Jordan, UT

Thomas Clawson wanted to experience Utah's "Silicon Slopes" tech community, so when Lucid, a fast-growing cloud-based software company, visited BYU for a case competition, he decided to apply for their internship program. Since May, he has worked as a digital marketing intern (full-time over spring and summer and now part-time).

One particularly satisfying part of this internship is that with time and experience, he's been able to take on more responsibility. "I was initially responsible for helping grow the affiliate program. After a few months I had a much better understand of affiliate marketing and my role became more focused on gathering insights through unique data points in the program. Now I run the everyday strategy and management of the LucidChart affiliate program."

Though the work has been challenging and sometimes confusing, he has gained skills he could not have learned in school. As he says, "It was (and still is) humbling and valuable to constantly ask for help and clarification." However, he has thoroughly enjoyed being able to work alongside great colleagues and network with members of the Utah tech community.

​Matthew SchaellingSpring/Summer 2017

Federal Reserve Bank of New York--New York, NY

Since he plans on pursuing a PhD in economics, Matthew Schaelling was hoping to find an internship that would help him gain research experience and internship experience outside of BYU. Over spring/summer 2017, he worked at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in New York City. As a research assistant to Fed economists, Matthew managed datasets, estimated econometric models, and synthesized results in presentations or LaTex documents. As he explains, "My internship gave me an opportunity to use the econometric tools I have developed and think more about how research works in economics."

He really enjoyed making connections and working with good mentors and peers. He also appreciated the academic rigor of the internship. "I really felt like I gained a better and more complete understanding of what economics research looked like, because I was able to spend the ten weeks working full-time on research. I was able to learn more about my research interests as I attended presentations by visiting scholars and discussed research topics with fellow interns."

​Though it was sometimes difficult to deliver fast and accurate results from his complex models and datasets, he now has much better attention for detail and a stronger familiarity of what research will look like in grad school and in his future career.​