Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

Chief Human Resources Office, State of Oregon

  • Internship Location: Salem, Oregon
  • Organization Type: state government
  • Policy Area: Public Management and Human Resources
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, non-profit management

The state of Oregon's Chief Human Resources Office provides administrative services for state employees. The office creates, maintains, and updates policies that affect labor relations and human resources management. As a summer intern, I worked primarily with the human resource policy team.

During the course of my 10-week placement I was tasked with a literature review of best practices in information system implementation. This paper touched on project management, change management, and innovation adoption in a public agency. Some of the daily tasks I handed included participating in classification and compensation team meetings that emphasized data modeling, conducting legislative research, and comparing existing policies to proposed policy changes.

My experience covered a broad range of topics, and I was reminded daily of the lessons I had been taught during my first year as a La Follette student. Everything from the networking skills developed in PA 800 (Career Development) to statistical analysis methods taught in PA 818 (Introduction to Statistical Methods) became solidified in practice during my 10 weeks. The best takeaway from my experience was being able to contextualize all of those lessons in a real-world setting. I don’t think my experience would have been as enriching if I hadn’t been able to make those connections.

IMPACT Planning Council

  • Internship Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: nonprofit
  • Policy Area: substance abuse, poverty, public health, violence prevention, diversity, teen pregnancy, infant mortality, and mental health
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: community planning, research and evaluation

The IMPACT Planning Council works in partnership with community leaders, decision-makers, and service providers that are committed to improving the well-being of residents in southeastern Wisconsin. The role of the council is to determine best practices; conduct research; evaluate data; and, assemble stakeholders to address issues such as substance abuse, poverty, public health, violence prevention, diversity, teen pregnancy, infant mortality and mental health.

The council’s skills and experience in community planning, research and evaluation are dedicated to human service system improvement. The information, data and recommendations that the IMPACT Planning Council generates are useful for nonprofits, government agencies, businesses, foundations, policymakers and the community at large.

I gained a great understanding of how real-world data are collected and quantified through a survey and used for the program evaluation. I experienced multiple projects related to planning, evaluation, and research on issues of community health and human services. I also learned the important use of qualitative research methods as well as quantitative methods in program evaluation and how to apply those forms of analysis that I learned in an academic setting to real-world problems.

Through the community-based projects, I realized that the collaboration among diverse stakeholders is a key element to the sustainability of the impact. Overall, seeing complexities of the problems in communities in the United States broadened my view of poverty globally, which fits with my interest to address issues of poverty in developed countries as well as developing countries.

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

  • Internship Location: Bangkok, Thailand
  • Organization Type: intergovernmental
  • Policy Area: energy, community development
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, qualitative analyis, issue analysis

Following my interests in environmental and development policies, I undertook an internship this summer with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP) in Bangkok, Thailand. I have been working at the Energy Security and Water Resources Section of the Environment and Development Division, where I work on theoretical and practical aspects of energy security in developing countries. Specifically, I have conducted theoretical research on the status of access to energy services in the Asia-Pacific region to identify opportunities and challenges for policy intervention. I also review and offer feedbacks on reports at various stages of Pro-Poor Public Private Partnership energy projects. The internship has allowed me invaluable insights into development issues, and an opportunity to directly work toward alleviating socioeconomic pressures that developing countries face in Asia and the Pacific Island countries. Although I have not directly used any specific La Follette School course material for my internship work, I have extensively used thematic components from several classes including, policy analysis (PA 873), international governance (PA 850), and global environmental governance (PA 866). The classes undeniably helped improve my critical reasoning, which made it fairly comfortable to tackle any intellectual challenges that arose during the internship.

Wisconsin Medical Society

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: non-profit
  • Policy Area: health
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, grant writing

The Wisconsin Medical Society is a member-based organization representing more than 12,500 physicians in Wisconsin. The Medical Society plays several important roles. First, it advocates for physicians, including lobbying for physician-focused policies at the state level, conducting job satisfaction studies, providing continuing medical education opportunities, and seeking to improve the day-to-day experience for physicians. Second, the Medical Society seeks to improve the health-care system in Wisconsin more generally by crafting evidence-based policy and lobbying for improved coverage, access, and delivery of health care, securing funding for local or statewide public health initiatives, and responding to growing public health problems by choosing teams of expert physicians and scholars to brainstorm and implement solutions.

My internship this summer was in the health policy domain. I worked on several projects: overhauling policy on HIV/AIDS to match the most recent evidence, updating outdated policies and cross-referencing with Wisconsin state laws, writing a grant to secure funding for a study on the effectiveness on prescription drug monitoring programs, and crafting policy in response to emerging public health issues. In addition to gaining a more thorough understanding of how policy is written, I was exposed to the routes by which policy can influence legislation, and vice-versa. I also have a clearer picture of the role of research and evidence in this bidirectional relationship. Moreover, I learned valuable skills in grant writing, and specifically in demonstrating a clear problem, proposing a feasible solution, and garnering coalition support.

Results for Development Institute

  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: non-profit
  • Policy Area: water, sanitation and hygiene, and environment and health
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis, and program evaluation

Results for Development Institute is a recent start-up working on international governance, health financing, and market dynamics. I worked for the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) team to design, conduct, and synthesize a needs assessment of more than 100 locally referred innovative WASH organizations in India and East Africa. The results of the needs assessment are being used to design workshops and bring together capacity-building resources for organizations in the network. It was great to personally speak to on-the-ground implementers who are passionate about their work and who are trying new, dynamic, and sustainable approaches.

In addition to WASH programs, I worked on a project that distilled approaches seen in WASH to their active ingredients and helped outline possible transfers of approaches between WASH and sustainable fisheries management. The goals of facilitating community investment and to integrating behavior change were important in both contexts.

I gained a great macro and micro view of the development sector, hearing firsthand what was happening on the ground and seeing how Results for Development Institutetried to address these issues. I also learned how to apply the qualitative and quantitative forms of analysis that I have learned in an academic setting to the real-world complexities of international work. Overall, I had a very positive experience and know I will be able to use what I learned in this position.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: state government
  • Policy Area: environmental regulation
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: qualitative data collection and analysis, program evaluation, policy analysis, and public education and outreach

The mission of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is “working with the citizens and businesses of Wisconsin while preserving and enhancing the natural resources of Wisconsin. In partnership with individuals and organizations, DNR staff manage fish, wildlife, forests, parks, air and water resources while promoting a healthy, sustainable environment and a full range of outdoor opportunities.”

My work at DNR consisted of public outreach, education, and program implementation. I am a member of the team managing the Learn to Hunt program, which has the goal of increasing the hunter population through targeting adults who did not grow up in hunting communities. Specifically, I reach out to landowners and mentors to provide these new hunters the resources they need to continue their new interest in hunting.

Many of the public outreach and image tools I used were extensions of the knowledge I gained in public management courses. Public perception of the organization was instrumental in my role of community development. Economic models, cost-benefit analyses, and statistical tools were also used to effectively recruit new landowners and mentors into the program. The diverse array of skills needed represents the La Follette idea of using a multidisciplinary approach in policy creation and implementation.

Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center

  • Internship Location: Beijing, China
  • Organization Type: federal government
  • Policy Area: public affairs and foreign affairs
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis

For six weeks, I interned at Asia-Pacific Finance and Development Center (AFDC) Beijing Office. AFDC is a research institution directly affiliated with China’s Ministry of Finance. It provides policy recommendations to the top decision-makers of the ministry and other government agencies. The research areas cover global macroeconomics, global and regional financial cooperation, and China’s fiscal and tax reform.

My tasks primarily included information collection, translation, and literature reviews. Under the guidance of my supervisor, I gathered information about how foreign mainstream media perceived China’s economy and its related policy, synthesized information and translated it into Chinese, and tailored the language. In addition, I closely followed the news of United States government agencies such as the Federal Reserve, U.S Department of the State, Council of Economic Advisors, etc.; wrote a summary of important events and policies of these agencies; and submitted it to the officials of AFDC. Also, I was involved in the “one road, one belt” project, and I assisted in writing literature reviews on Asia cooperation mechanism, ranging from international organizations such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations to trade agreements such as Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This internship provided me firsthand experience on how China’s government institutions operate and a clear understanding of the structure of China’s Ministry of Finance. Through the internship I further developed my information gathering and synthesizing skills and communication skills. The experience is a valuable exploration of the possibilities of my future career.

Education Analytics

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: nonprofit
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: data analysis

Education Analytics is a nonprofit organization founded by University of Wisconsin–Madison professor Robert Meyer with the mission of assisting education organizations, particularly school districts and states, and their stakeholders with the development and use of data for measuring education systems.

Through my work at Education Analytics, I supported the organization's policy and data teams, particularly on a project developing student growth models for the Delaware Department of Education to measure teacher effectiveness and assess school accountability across the state. I assisted with all phases of the project, including working with the state to determine the models Delaware will use, preparing the state data and running the statistical analyses, and communicating the measurement process and the student growth results to education stakeholders.

The data analysis and modeling work was a direct extension from many of the concepts I'm developing through the La Follette School's statistical sequence of courses. Just as valuable, Education Analytics' approach to balancing quantitative expertise with policy-relevant decision-making captures a core ideal of the La Follette School community and my own set of values.

Through my work, I observed how Education Analytics staff approach the technical process of measuring student growth and it collaborates with partners to incorporate the measures within an education system, particularly in a given the policy environment.

Office of Wisconsin State Representative Amy Loudenbeck

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: state Legislature
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy research and analysis

During the 2015 spring semester, I interned in the office of Wisconsin state Representative Amy Loudenbeck. Representative Loudenbeck's position on the Joint Finance Committee enriched my knowledge and brought new opportunities few interns receive, which in part heavily influenced my decision in the first place to return to the Wisconsin Assembly. The Joint Finance Committee is markedly different from other committees. Administrative agencies, trade organizations, local governments, citizens across the state, and fellow legislators are highly interested in the opinions and positions of JFC members. I interacted with and learned from a diversity of participants in the democratic and legislative process.

My primary responsibilities included policy research and analysis, which was focused on an array of legislative initiatives, obscure issues with a lack of information, and state policy problems. Specifically, I researched and analyzed state transportation infrastructure, veterans tuition remission programs, biennial budget proposals and critiques, and various other proposals. A policy memo or brief typically followed my research accompanied by an oral policy brief. I am granted sizeable discretion in my work, and I can talk candidly during staff meetings due to my longstanding relationship with Loudenbeck and Morouney . Secondary responsibilities included but were not limited to occasional constituent casework, constituent database management, constituent survey data management, and district news updates. The La Follette School – specifically the courses International Governance, Introduction to Policy Analysis, and Cost-Benefit Analysis – prepared me to write high-quality memos and perform meaningful policy research and analysis, and helped me succeed in this position.