Growing up with a dad in the Air Force, Abby Butikofer has always had her eye on the White House, but not in the way one might think.
Instead of politics, Butikofer’s interests were in mathematics. While her dad worked in the Pentagon, she had D.C. dreams of her own, but as a math major, she was a little unsure of how to make it happen.
That is until she received an email saying that there were some internships available in D.C. including an opportunity at the Peruvian Embassy for spanish speakers to work in some of their departments. From there, Butikofer was hooked.
“I served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Peru which really caught my attention,” Butikofer said. “I decided it was right up my alley and the best of both worlds since I would also be able to speak Spanish.”
Butikofer applied to the Peruvian Embassy Economics department because she thought it was most relatable to math, and thought that it would be a good way to explore that avenue in preparations for graduate school.
Three weeks before the start of fall semester, Butikofer was given the news that she had been accepted for the internship of her dreams at the Peruvian Embassy.
In her day-to-day life, Butikofer has learned how to write diplomatic cables and how the trade war with China can affect American trade with Peru. She often attends meetings and conferences with important people in the D.C. area.
“In my first week, I went to coffee with someone from the Council of the Americas,” Butikofer said. “The embassy had me meet them and work out details for an event they are putting on with them. I just felt so grown-up, fancy and professional.”
Butikofer’s highlights of her internship so far include editing one of the ambassador’s speeches given in New York and attending a produce conference where she was able to meet with congressmen and senators and shake their hands.
She also had a special experience on her way to one of these meetings that she said she will never forget.
“I was walking past the capitol building on my way to the House of Representatives building in business casual, looking like a young professional and got stopped by a news station who wanted to interview me regarding the #metoo movement with Brett Kavanaugh’s investigation, and sure enough I was on the news,” Butikofer said.
Butikofer loves that her internship at the Peruvian Embassy gives her an opportunity to get outside of herself and see the world in a new perspective.
“I feel like every day I go in and do something important. I know I’m just an intern but it’s a good experience to go in and feel like I’m changing the world,” Butikofer said.
Because of her mission experiences in Peru, Butikofer has come to love the people she served with, which has helped her better appreciate her internship.
“I kind of understand the Peruvian people and am able to work with them in a professional environment,” Butikofer said. “I am able to continue working with them in a different way than I was before and am able to continue to increase my Spanish vocabulary.”
Sam Paepke also works at the Peruvian Embassy with Butikofer, and loves that Butikofer engages herself in anything that people around her are engaged in or are excited about.
“She is outgoing and a deep-thinker,” Paepke said. “She also loves to have adventures and plan new things.”
Paepke has a strong belief of setting goals and writing them down and talked to Butikofer about her “post-mission” bucket list, which included studying abroad and doing an internship, both of which will be completed following this internship. Some of the memories they have together include visiting the sights all over the city, riding the train and appreciating Peruvian culture together.
Halea Walker reconnected with Butikofer when she walked into her room in D.C. Walker and Butikofer served together in Lima, Peru, on their missions and are now roommates.
Walker appreciates that Abby is high-energy and fun to be with.
“She is passionate about life and her positive attitude helps her enjoy to the fullest the array of opportunities that come her way,” Walker said.
To those who are interested in applying to internships in D.C., Butikofer recommends talking to the Institute of Government and Politics about the internships available.
“There’s really no harm in applying,” Butikofer said. “Don’t be scared of putting life and school on hold. This is a great experience.”
When she isn’t working, Butikofer spends her time soaking up the city life and traveling to new and exciting places all around the east coast.
“I’ve been to several different museums, went on a tour of the Capitol Building, the Pentagon, Mt. Vernon, the Holocaust museum and many different monuments,” Butikofer said.
Butikofer said that she knows she is only a 22-year-old college student, but feels like the work she is doing is important and that she is doing something to help Peru.
“Being here in D.C. reminds me that I can make a difference. D.C. is a really amazing city and I love being in the center of everything,” Butikofer said. “This is where America happened. I love being surrounded by the action.”