Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

City First Enterprises

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Housing & community financing
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, nonprofit management

Spending the summer working for City First Enterprises (CFE) provided robust professional and personal development opportunities. Working at CFE increased my knowledge of community development financial institutions along with strategies to increase access to workforce housing and support small businesses  - both resulting in increased community wealth and quality of life.

Staff throughout City First were accessible and provided career advice and resources along with connections to other professionals in the D.C. area and in Madison. All of these interactions provided useful insights into working in the nonprofit and public sectors. The contacts’ expertise regarding what strategies are most successful in supporting the creation of workforce housing and increasing economic activity have been extremely valuable.

Engaging with professionals also was a profound source of inspiration. Many of the people come from diverse backgrounds and have overcome unique challenges and obstacles to emerge in high-level roles in the public and nonprofit sectors. All of them were very encouraging in my professional endeavors, and I look forward to staying in contact with them.

Washington, D.C. itself was awe-inspiring. Touring storied institutions in D.C. revealed lessons regarding how the federal government operates and has made me consider working at the national level in the future. Despite this long-term possibility, I believe the greatest impact can be made at the local level and look forward to enacting the lessons of this summer at the municipal level.

The European Parliament

  • Internship Location: Brussels, Belgium, and Magdeburg, Germany
  • Organization Type: International government
  • Policy Area: Foreign affairs, Brexit, development
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, political leadership, networking

As an intern at the European Parliament, I had the opportunity to work at the parliament building in Strasbourg, France, the main parliament in Brussels, Belgium, the home office of MEP Arne Lietz in Magdeburg, Germany, and the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany. I took part in many interesting discussions on Brexit, foreign affairs policy, and development policy. This gave me an insider’s view of the inner workings of the European Parliament, how representatives make decisions on a personal level, and what the future of the union will look like.

I was responsible for translating the website of my member of the European Parliament (MEP) from German to English, writing letters in English to foreign diplomats, taking notes in French, English, and German in meetings my MEP could not attend, and aiding my MEP in making decisions on how to promote his personal agenda through the larger body. This unexpectedly allowed me to influence the proceedings of the parliament in a way I never thought possible.

My MEP relied heavily on me for my knowledge of the transatlantic relationship and the upcoming U.S. elections. I was even tasked with helping a local organization invite speakers for an event in October about the U.S. election. I benefited from this experience in more ways than one, from the knowledge of how European politics are administered, to understanding the fear and anxiety of a Brexit vote. I hope to use this internship experience as an advantage as I look for jobs in Brussels next summer.

Levee Ready Columbia

  • Internship Location: Portland, OR
  • Organization Type: Local government
  • Policy Area: Water/environment, emergency management
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, asset-based planning, communications

I had two key projects for the summer fellowship. First, I was responsible for the summer 2016 outreach campaign, which involved attending numerous events and tracking measures for evaluation. The deliverables for this project included: individual event summary memos for every event I attend; social media collages and posts around event participation; data tracking and visualization across several variables, such as attendance, interactions, sign-ups, reach, etc.; a final report tracking the trends and recommending criteria for evaluating the success of events and determining future outreach efforts; and a final presentation to the Levee Ready Columbia Communications Subcommittee.

The presentation and draft report were delivered on Wednesday, August 3. Suggestions and recommendations, as well as details and tracking for the final three events, were due prior to August 19.

The second key project I worked on was a community assets inventory, which was one of five inventories commissioned by Levee Ready Columbia as part of its requirements for accreditation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The idea for this inventory was fairly nebulous, with no working definitions yet established, so I began with a literature review of best practices and a series of case studies on how other communities conducted such inventories. I also developed interview protocol and held seven key informant interviews, compiled a draft inventory, created mapping criteria using existing GIS layers and geolocation information, and presented my draft report (incorporating methodology and recommendations for future work) which I also presented to the Communications Subcommittee.

Government Accountability Office

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Federal government
  • Policy Area: Small businesses and technology
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, performance management

My internship at the Government Accountability Office headquarters in Washington, D.C., was a great opportunity to learn about many facets of the federal government and program evaluation. Placed in the Natural Resources and Environment team, I worked with a small group of analysts on a congressional mandate about the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs.

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program provides grants to small businesses to develop and commercialize new technology. The iRobot Roomba, Da Vinci Surgical System for minimally invasive surgery, and the Tesla S car are some of the most well-known products of the program. One of my favorite products was the technology to grow vegetables in outer space from a NASA grant recipient.

Our job was to analyze the fraud, waste, and abuse initiatives of the 12 federal agencies that participate in this program, including the Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and Department of Education.

We spoke with agency leaders, their grant or contracting officers, and each of the agencies’ Office of the Inspector General. My role included leading interviews, writing official records of interviews, analyzing agency documents, and briefing GAO leadership and congressional staff on our report, among other activities.

Overall, I found my time at the GAO to be an excellent learning experience, a place I could apply my La Follette coursework, and a window into many federal agencies.

Wisconsin Legislature

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: State government
  • Policy Area: Public health
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis

Working in the Wisconsin Capitol has given me a unique perspective into understanding the dynamics of the state’s political environment. Similar to my previous internship at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., as an undergraduate student, I have discovered the vast responsibilities and expectations elected officials and their staff handle on a daily basis.State legislative offices are responsible for comprehending federal, state, county, and local laws while distinguishing the proper jurisdictional methods in best assisting constituent affairs.

My internship duties included researching various legislative topics as well as assisting constituent inquiries about local and state issues. Throughout my experience, I received numerous projects, ranging from investigating complicated lawsuits to examining a wide range of political topics for constituents and my boss.

Additionally, the state representative whp supervised my office responsibilities trusted me to explore any topics of professional and academic value. This flexibility allowed me to thoroughly study various areas of interest that benefitted the state representative’s legislative office and me. I enjoyed this opportunity to work at the Wisconsin Legislature because I was successful in applying my knowledge from my graduate school classes into the professional workplace.

City of Chicago Mayor's Office

  • Internship Location: Chicago, IL
  • Organization Type: Local government
  • Policy Area: Education, performance management, legislative affairs, finance/revenue, program evaluation
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, program evaluation, performance management

My fellowship exposed me to an incredible variety of policy areas, people, and projects. Twenty-four other graduate fellows and I worked together on more than 75 projects, ranging from education to fiscal and performance management within the Mayor’s office and externally.

I was able to work on 10 projects throughout the summer, each with a different project manager, different fellows, and different external organizations. I learned so much from each and was able to utilize my existing skills and develop a much deeper understanding of things outside my expertise (namely public finance and budgeting). I felt I was consistently trusted with actual responsibility—there was never a time that I felt underutilized.

Highlights of the fellowship included weekly trips to different facilities and programs in the city. We traveled as a group to afterschool youth programs, neighborhoods with notable economic development, O’Hare Airport, and Jardine Water Filtration plant to name a few. We saw the city's contributions to the economy and the positive community impact that these places and programs have. It provided a unique look into what makes the city work and what challenges still exist.

Finally, we were able to engage with Mayor’s staff on a regular basis, including weekly talks with senior staff about their career trajectory, major challenges of their roles, and pieces of advice for young policy professionals. That type of exposure to leaders in their respective policy fields was invaluable to my personal career development and to gain a better understanding of the issues facing Chicago.

The Urban Institute

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Poverty alleviation, TANF, low-income families, poverty, vulnerability, safety net
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, database administration

I interned at the Urban Institute, a leading nonpartisan think-tank in our nation’s capitol. As a summer associate within the Income and Benefits Policy Center, this meant working to expand opportunities for those most vulnerable in our communities.

My job was to work on the Welfare Rules Database (WRD), a longitudinal nationwide resource that tracks Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) policies across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The WRD was created as a response to the increasing diversification of cash assistance policies across the states. Since the 1996 passage of welfare reform, states have been able to create their own cash assistance programs under TANF. As a result, each state has its own rules to determine eligibility and benefit payments for cash welfare participants.

The Urban Institute invests heavily into training its staff because of a commitment to quality research. My fellow WRD intern, a bright master of public affairs candidate from New York University, and I spent nearly four weeks training and learning the intricacies of TANF. Trainings were conducted by a senior fellow and the research associates leading our project. We spent our remaining weeks finding TANF policy updates that states have made in the past year and coding them for categories captured in the WRD.

I had a wonderful experience at Urban and had the opportunity to attend numerous events and professional development trainings. I am grateful for the opportunity to work alongside some extremely bright individuals and look forward to a career of public service.

Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Federal government
  • Policy Area: Finance, regulation, budgetary
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, budgeting and finance

An internship at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provided me with an opportunity to work for a quasi-federal agency and gain valuable experience evaluating bank regulations, risk-management strategies, and consumer protection practices. In this position, another intern and I were tasked with completing a retirement analysis aimed at evaluating the entire FDIC workforce for trends and forecasts for future staffing needs. This project has been assigned to this office’s interns for the past six years and it tends to involve extreme proficiency with Microsoft Excel, Access models and charts, and a final presentation to the associate director before being dispersed to division leaders throughout the FDIC.

I also reassessed the Corporate Employee Program’s (CEP) collegiate recruitment efforts with the goal of becoming before efficient and diversified. This work was very mundane and manual in nature but was needed to fully reassess the target schools and majors in the program.

I enjoyed both assignments as did I the internship as a whole. For someone with an accounting and finance background, I was able to see the system from the regulatory side.

Outside of work, this position allowed me to experience the extravagancies and scenery in the D.C. area. Most notably, allowing employees to view the Fourth of July fireworks from the headquarters’ rooftop only blocks from The White House was a selective opportunity and very much appreciated.

Wisconsin Health Care Association / Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Health
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Health policy, public management, performance management

The Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living (WHCA/WiCAL) is a nonprofit membership association that represents the interests of Wisconsin’s long-term care provider community and the residents they serve. WHCA/WICAL provides its members with benefits of affiliation through the development and dissemination of information, training, and quality improvement assistance.

I secured this internship as a result of contacting Executive Director John Vandermeer, a La Follette School alumnus, to set up an informational interview. After expressing that I was searching for a summer internship, John asked for my resume and invited me for an interview.

My internship position at WHCA/WiCAL was focused on health policy and quality improvement. I coordinated and oversaw the Performance Excellence in Assisted Living program. I updated and maintained the program website and wrote weekly articles for the association’s electronic newsletter. I also developed the educational training material for the association's monthly webinar series that highlighted quality improvement initiatives and resources. I implemented strategies for membership engagement and outreach for both member and nonmember assisted living facilities.

As a La Follette student pursuing a master's degree in public affairs with a focus on health and social policy, this internship provided me excellent networking opportunities and extensive knowledge on Wisconsin’s long-term care challenges.

Citizen Action of Wisconsin

  • Internship Location: Milwaukee, WI
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Economic/community development, health policy, social welfare policy
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis

Based out of Milwaukee, Citizen Action is an organization that seeks social, economic, and environmental justice through a number of activities, stories, and interpersonal connections. Simply, its goal is to make Wisconsin a better place to live and work through political activism.

Through an issue-based approach for informing members of political happenings within the state, Citizen Action has inspired the support of more than 120,000 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents across the state.

My experience as a policy intern with Citizen Action was an overall positive one. Because my role was on a volunteer basis, I was given flexible hours and a fair amount of freedom to perform the various tasks assigned to me, as well as occasional freedom to choose the projects that interested me.

The majority of my responsibilities included the collection, cleaning, and analysis of various data sources as well as occasionally contributing to some media releases. Each week, I touched base with my superiors to see how I could be of the best use to the organization, given time constraints, available data, and what media releases were scheduled. I especially enjoyed working at an organization that cares so deeply about the issues and felt very welcome to be a part of the team. Having an inside perspective of an organization that helps inform policy makers will be invaluable to me in whatever position I hold in the future.

Government Accountability Office

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Federal government
  • Policy Area: Natural resources, environment
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Quantitative/qualitative data analysis, program evaluation, performance management

The U.S. Government Accountability Office assigned me to two engagements: the National Park Service’s deferred maintenance and concessions programs. Immediately upon arrival, I participated in interviews with park maintenance staff, concessions managers from the park service, and concessioners who provide services like retail, food and beverage, lodging, and guide services.

After I had a handle on park service lingo and had a solid understanding of the information we were looking to find through the interviews, I was asked to document the information gathered in a Record of Interviews. Sometimes, I led tje interview, discussing the challenges and options for the park service.

Other duties included data analyses, creating summary documents of my findings, participating in message development for the final report, and evaluating park documents, such as contracts, prospectuses, and training materials. The documents and and data analyses I prepared for the concessions program will be used to inform the final report.

As part of the learning experience, the GAO gave ample opportunities to attend seminars, including a speech from Joan Trumpauer-Mulholland, a civil rights activist of the 1960s and notable Freedom Rider. I was also able to attend a House of Representatives Congressional Hearing on nuclear smuggling and border control.

The summer culminated in an intern presentation where I was able to show the Natural Resources and Environment team at the GAO all that I had learned and the experience that I had working with and among them.

Office of State Assembly Representative Dave Murphy

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: State government
  • Policy Area: Higher education, policymaking
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, political leadership, policymaking

I worked full-time as a legislative assistant for State Rep. Murphy, who chairs the Assembly Colleges and Universities Committee and focuses on higher education policy. Overall, this position gave me the opportunity to test my policy analysis skills as I researched policy, developed policy alternatives, and worked with stakeholders to incorporate expert feedback. It also gave me firsthand experience in the policymaking process to see what it takes to enact policies into law.

Specifically, I worked on a package of six bills, collectively called the College Affordability Package, during the 2016 spring legislative session. It was rewarding to work with Rep. Murphy through the legislative process to see ideas become law. This experience helped me learn how to develop evidence-based policy alternatives, provide leadership in the political process, work with the media, and negotiate with stakeholders.

This internship so was valuable because I had other responsibilities to keep the office running. This included working with Rep. Murphy's constituents and assisting them with navigating state government as well as managing the constituent database, fulfilling open-records requests, managing his calendar, and drafting news releases and statements.

The skills that I learned at La Follette, like how to write concise policy memos that weigh policy alternatives or how to apply different theories about the policymaking process, directly assisted me in this experience. This opportunity allowed me to apply the knowledge learned in courses and to hone my skills in higher education - my policy area of choice.

Research Triangle Institute International

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Governance, economic development
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, program evaluation, budgeting and finance, performance management

Worked as the Business Development Intern for the International Development Group at Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International. Along with a relatively small team of business development specialists, I analyzed the value of past opportunities, managed day-to-day aspects of business administration, and examined areas of potential growth. Business administration functions included strategy development and process management; gathering business intelligence; identifying and developing clients, partners, and contacts; and supporting business capture and proposal development.

In addition, I provided technical support to proposal leaders for the preparation of bid proposals for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID), and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

Business development responsibilities and additional proposal support included projects that spanned three sections: Governance and Civic Engagement (GCE), Urban Management and Markets (UMM), and Workforce and Economic Development (WEO). GCE programs aim to address governance challenges, whether it be increasing participation in governance, strengthening resources for evidenced-based policies, promoting accountability and civil society advocacy, or improving legislative capacity. UMM programs leverage demand-side solutions to address the common ailments and challenges that occur as urban populations grow. WEO programs focus on implementing solutions for workforce and skill development, with a particular concentration on employment opportunities for women, youth, and disadvantaged target groups.

Wisconsin HOPE Lab

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Higher education
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation

At the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, I worked on two projects. One was a study about the persistence of low-income students in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) at Wisconsin universities and colleges. The other was a program evaluation of College Possible.

For both projects, I assisted with data cleaning and minor analyses for the production of data briefs. These data briefs are used by scholars in higher education policy, lobbyists, and activists for higher education policy reform. In some cases, the data collected by the HOPE Lab are among the only data available.

For example, I helped write a data brief on traits of Federal Work-Study jobs based on the HOPE Lab's sample of STEM students in Wisconsin. We surveyed students to gain better insight into the characteristics of Federal Work-Study jobs. The data brief will be used by the lobbying group Young Invincibles to push Federal Work-Study reform forward.