Summer Internship Spotlight: Allister Byrd

August 27, 2012

Allister Byrd worked in Shanghai, China, this summer as an intern at the Pudong Institute for the U.S. Economy. Her responsibilities included doing in-depth research comparing the health care systems in the United States and China. The research was used for her supervisor’s academic thesis. A Knox College senior from St. Louis, Missouri, Allister is majoring in international relations/political science and minoring in Chinese.

Allister ByrdDescribe your day-to-day experiences.
A typical day would begin with reading various academic journals pertaining to international health care systems and reading the latest literature on Chinese health care law. It was also extremely important to keep up-to-date on the changing health care system of the United States.

How did you learn about this opportunity? Did anyone from Knox play a role?

I learned about this opportunity through IES Abroad internship programs. I know of a lot of Knox students that do semester programs through IES and have amazing experiences. I'm glad that I was able to choose this program with the help of other Knox students who were able to give me references.

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the classroom experiences at Knox benefited you in the internship?

At a school like Knox, you're often required to do research that pushes you to understand multiple perspectives of an issue, which made researching for my internship much easier. Because of my previous experience with the McNair program, which required writing an undergraduate thesis, I was able to better understand the process that my employer used to write his thesis.

How do you think this internship will benefit you in terms of your education, future career plans, personal development, etc.?

I gained a better insight into how an international legislature works, as well as a deeper understanding of what people in another country believe the role of government should be. It was great that I was able to study international health law because it inspired me to continue researching and learning about it long after I left China.

What inspired you to pursue the internship?

Health care law is an undeniably important part of the political climate today. I was eager to learn more about what exactly was going on in the U.S. health care system and understand it through a global perspective.

What was the coolest part of your internship?

The best part of this internship was undoubtedly doing it in China. Shanghai is an incredibly exciting city that is constantly growing and expanding every year. I was very lucky to have an employer who encouraged me to learn about how Chinese culture plays a big role in the way people think about health care and what the government is trying to implement.

What did you learn?

This internship taught me how to understand an issue in a political climate that is radically different from America's, but affects so many people that it is worth understanding every aspect of it. I learned that doing hours of research can be a grueling process, but is ultimately worth it when you know that you've contributed to something that could do some good.

(Photo above right: Allister Byrd at the Great Wall of China.)