Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs

UW–Madison Law School

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Higher education
  • Policy area: International law
  • Primary Skills Used/Developed: data collection and analysis, memo writing

During the 2016-2017 school year, I worked as a research assistant for associate professor of law Alexandra Huneeus researching the influence of international law in peace processes in Latin America. My research occurred during a very active time in the Colombian peace process. Early in the year, the plebiscite narrowly rejected the peace accord between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in late 2016, and later the Colombian Congress approved a modified peace agreement.

Although the FARC and Colombian government have held several failed negotiations, the most recent peace accord is currently in the implementation phase thanks in part to the influence of the international community. The progress that occurred during my time on the project constantly highlighted the relevance of studying the influence of international law in Colombia.

My work included analyzing Colombian laws, peace accords, international law, and political and social updates relevant to our work. From my analysis of Colombian laws, I created an interactive table to cross-reference peace accords, which connected legal standards to the original text. In addition, I drafted memos about political updates on the peace process, specifically when the Colombian Constitutional Court ruled on the constitutionality of the modified peace accord, failed plebiscite, and arguments for why the original plebiscite failed.

University of Wisconsin–Madison - Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group (CNERG)

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Academic Research
  • Policy Area: Nonproliferation policy, security policy, Middle East, conflict
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: quantitative data collection and analysis, model building, qualitative data collection and analysis

I worked at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Computational Nuclear Engineering Research Group (CNERG) for three semesters as a research and nuclear modeling assistant. In my time with the group, I had three major tasks.

The first was to research and design a model of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle as it would be under the constraints of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or “Iran Deal.” This model tracks nuclear materials like uranium from when they are first mined to their storage after use in a nuclear reactor.

My second major task was to research uranium enrichment by gas centrifuge. This is the process Iran and other countries use to make uranium usable in either power plants or nuclear weapons. There isn’t a lot of unclassified literature on this technology, so I was asked to write a primer on centrifuge enrichment for future CNERG work and possible publication. My research on this primer informed the parameters used in our model of Iran’s fuel cycle.

My final major task was to assist other researchers in modeling proliferation scenarios. This model used inputs like military GDP, scientific network and conflict to try to predict the types of countries that would attempt to develop nuclear weapons. My contributions to this model were primarily related to scoring conflict and historical scenarios in the Middle East and the former Soviet Union.

City of Madison Finance Department

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Local government
  • Policy Area: Budgeting, finance, performance management, data analysis
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Data analysis, organization, program evaluation & management

Working for the City of Madison finance department has provided me with a fantastic look at the “other side” of local government. My previous job was working in the City Manager’s Office for the city of Iowa City. Though I was involved in some level of finances there, working with the production of financial documents has provided me with a unique understanding of both sides of local management and operations.

My internship duties were extremely variable. One week I input line items into the 2017 operating budget, and the next I had conversations with Microsoft about the feasibility of implementing new data visualization software for department heads. Honestly, this was my favorite part about the work; I was constantly exposed to a wide range of programs, departments, and coworkers. Luckily for me, I am able to stick around for another year!

To garner an understanding of how the finance office operates, I think it would be extremely valuable to experience another budget cycle. In its nature, government tends to move very slowly; this is especially true when anything costs money because it often needs to be budgeted for. Now that many of the projects have progressed and improved, I can work on the implementation phase. Most specifically, the open data project, which provides a new level of transparency to government, will really begin taking effect in 2017-2018.

City of Middleton

  • Internship Location: Middleton, WI
  • Organization Type: Local Government
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: public management, data collection and analysis, networking

Working for the City of Middleton has been a condensed course in perhaps every aspect of local, municipal city management. I had responsibilities I did not expect, especially as an intern. I met and spoke with leadership from every municipal department to compile data for annual reports. I researched the economic impact of public, urban green spaces. I was included in tax-increment-finance meetings, and I observed collective bargaining negotiations. The city administrator and city staff did everything possible to include me in any aspect of local government that interested me.

Working with the city staff in Middleton also taught me that virtually no decisions are made in a vacuum. Even within local government, the common council, mayor, city administrator, city staff, and residents all work together to develop policy that best serves the public good. As an intern, I was included in every meeting during my scheduled time here. I viewed first-hand the economic impact of a properly utilized tax-increment-finance district. The highlight of this internship was the weekly meetings with the city administrator, city staff, outside consultants, and occasionally private developers to discuss tax-increment-finance districts and their impact on redevelopment within the city.

Additionally, I had the opportunity to meet with department leadership, the city administrator of Middleton (as well as surrounding municipalities), and city staff members from all departments to seek advice and discuss career trajectories. The city administrator was exceptionally helpful with providing meaningful, significant experiences as well as thoughtful guidance and advice.

National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

  • Internship Location: Washington, DC
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Science policy
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Report writing, presenting, gauging stakeholder interests, networking

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide society with unbiased information and recommendations about science and technology. Through contracts with federal agencies, under congressional mandates, or with private foundations, NASEM invites a broad array of stakeholders to discuss issues in science and technology, producing book-length reports that are then frequently, hopefully, though not necessarily, translated into public policy.

During my time at NASEM, I worked on a project about the public health impacts of electronic cigarettes, under the sponsorship of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These are largely unregulated products, and the project was focused on understanding what electronic cigarettes mean for public health, for potential lives saved through harm reduction, and for overall disease burden. Particularly interesting was thinking about how, once the evidence has been compiled, the way messages are packaged to policymakers and to the public is vital to see translation of evidence into practices.

In addition to the work on the electronic cigarette project, this fellowship was generally a fantastic learning opportunity. We were encouraged to step outside of the building, to meet whomever we wanted in the city, to attend congressional hearings, and to take part in science policy events throughout the city. The networking experience through this fellowship was unparalleled.

Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice

  • Internship Location: Madison, WI
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Policy Area: Social welfare policy, health policy
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Nonprofit management, database administration, networking

Through my internship with Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, I had the opportunity to immerse myself in social policy at the state, local, and federal levels. As the sole intern in a small, nonprofit organization, I was able to accompany the president to a wide variety of events and was able to feel as though my contributions mattered significantly.

Because Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice is a member organization and convener of multiple advocacy coalitions, I was able to network with social and economic justice advocacy organizations from across the state. Each Tuesday, I attended the coordinating council meetings for the Wisconsin Health Matters coalition, a “grass-tops” organization bringing together health policy advocacy organizations to coordinate strategy and disseminate information. Through the Dignity at Work Coalition convened by Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice, I was able to attend the press conference introduction and lobby on behalf of the Paid Family and Medical Leave Act in the state Legislature.

Some of the most meaningful skills I gained as a part of this internship were an increased comfort with political advocacy and an intimate familiarity with the workings of Wisconsin state government. Helping facilitate advocacy workshops to area congregations and accompanying the president to lobby and testify at the Capitol demystified the advocacy process and gave me the confidence to lobby on my own in the future. This position also required me to complete some small administrative tasks, such as managing membership databases and writing social media posts.

Education Analytics

  • Internship Location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization Type: Nonprofit
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Grant writing, research

I had the opportunity to intern at Education Analytics (EA), a nonprofit organization founded by University of Wisconsin–Madison Professor Robert Meyer. The organization uses data analytics to help school districts, regional offices of education, nonprofits, and policymakers identify ways to improve public education systems. EA works with organizations across the country on projects ranging from student growth metrics to assessment development.

Most state and local education agency budgets are limited. Thus, a critical part of EA’s work is to help school districts obtain the funding needed for the services it provides. Among my chief tasks was supporting the policy team in drafting, revising, and submitting proposals for grants from the federal government or philanthropic foundations on behalf of partnering school districts and educational organizations.

I was also a member of a team devoted to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) research, a topic of rapidly growing interest in education policy. Growing consensus on the importance of non-cognitive skills as well as recent changes to federal education policy are inducing educational organizations to incorporate SEL into their curricula and school accountability systems. Organizations like EA are using data analytics to inform and guide this process.

From navigating the complexities of education funding to observing how changes to federal education policy are taken up and implemented by school districts, administrators, and teachers, working at EA provided me with a window into real-time education policy issues.

Silethokuhle Foundation and The Kruger National Park

  • Student: Atiya Siddiqi
  • Internship Location: Kwa-Zulu Natal, South Africa, and Mpumalanga, South Africa
  • Organization Type: International non-governmental organization and federal government
  • Policy Areas: Health and conservation management
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, budgeting and finance, nonprofit management, performance management

 My summer abroad provided with the opportunity to work in two different sectors in South Africa: nonprofit and public. I witnessed first-hand how important policy development and compliance are when it comes to achieving organizational goals and success. My experiences allowed me to use skills and concepts I learned in every single class during my first year at La Follette, from the networking skills we learn in PA 800 to calculating discounting rates, which we learn in economics.

For my first internship, I worked on strategic planning efforts with a community-based nonprofit organization in Kwa-Zulu Natal, which was both humbling and insightful. During my second internship, I lived and worked in the Kruger National Park, gathering and analyzing data alongside conservationists and fire experts to produce a policy analysis regarding an appropriate fire-burning regime for a specific zone of the park. It was truly an incredible experience and provided me with my first opportunity to write a policy analysis for a real client. My summer truly put into perspective just how transferable and important my time at La Follette will be in my future endeavors.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

  • Student: Sarah Dagleish
  • Internship location: Wisconsin
  • Organization type: State government
  • Policy area: Health
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation

I worked as a program and policy analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in the Bureau of Aging and Disabilities Resources (BADR). Throughout the summer, I worked on several projects that involved grant writing, analyzing data from Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRCs) throughout the state, and assisting with the expansion of the Dementia Care Specialists (DCS) Program.

The federal grants I worked on provide funding to create “dementia-friendly” communities in Wisconsin and help expand the resources available to caregivers of dementia patients. The data I analyzed from the ADRCs helped ensure that clients received quality service and information across all ADRCs in Wisconsin.

Lastly, the DCS program expects to receive continuous funding in the next state budget that will expand essential services to Wisconsin communities so they can be equipped to deal with the ever-increasing issue of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

In taking on these tasks, I saw the true value of my education at La Follette as my skills and abilities have assisted me in delivering high-quality results to my supervisor. Overall, this was a great internship experience!

City of Madison, Parks Division

  • Student: Cody Oltmans
  • Internship location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization type: Local government
  • Policy areas: Budgeting, finance, urban planning
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Data analysis, technical writing, strategic planning

My internship with the City of Madison Parks Division exposed me to various aspects of local government. During the first two months, I primarily worked on developing the division’s 2018 operating budget. Having never worked in local government, I learned a great deal about finance and budgeting during this time.

The Parks Division has several sections (such as, east, west, construction, conservation, and forestry), and I worked with each section to develop the optimal budget for 2018. During the budget process, I also met weekly with the division’s upper management, which exposed me to the various challenges faced by public managers in municipal government. For anyone interested in working in finance or public management, this would be an invaluable experience.

During the latter portion of my internship, I worked with the Parks Planning and Development section, assisting in the development of the 2018–22 Parks Open Space Plan (POSP). The POSP is the agency’s guiding document on strategy and policy, and it is updated every five years.

I conducted background research and wrote portions of the POSP, addressing topics such as the division’s plan for climate-change resiliency and for creating an equitable parks system. This was a great opportunity to use the skills I learned in Policy Analysis and other first-year La Follette classes. Working in Planning and Development was significantly different from my experience working with Parks administration during the budget process, and it would be great exposure for anyone interested more in urban planning and environmental policy.

Wisconsin Health Care Association/Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living (WHCA/WiCAL)

  • Student: Naiya Patel
  • Internship location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization type: Nonprofit
  • Policy area: Health
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, nonprofit management, political leadership

I discovered the internship at the Wisconsin Health Care Association and Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living through Kelsey Mueller, a second-year La Follette School student at the time. I reached out to the organization’s executive director for an informational interview, when I learned that John Vander Meer was a La Follette School alumnus. After meeting with him, I interviewed for and received the organization’s summer internship as a full-time health policy and quality analyst.

During my internship, I worked with the director of reimbursement policy to analyze the Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates in Wisconsin. We compared these rates to other states using the national association’s data. I also compiled educational materials for the organization’s annual Fall Conference. My other projects were supervised by the director of quality advancement and regulatory affairs, director of public affairs, director of administrative services, and director of member services.

Overall, I worked on communicating the effects of new legislature to the organization’s long-term care facility members and to other facilities. I also helped prepare education materials for the organization’s members so that they could provide the best care for the people they serve and used the skills I gained in my health policy class to ensure members were aware of changes to legislation.

The Wisconsin Health Care Association/ Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living is a nonprofit organization in Madison, Wisconsin. It is dedicated to representing, protecting and advancing the interests of Wisconsin’s long-term care community, their members, and the individuals they serve. The organization also advocates for assisted living facilities by helping members provide the highest quality services to Wisconsin’s frail and elderly citizens. The American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living also provides valuable tools, support, and information for each of its state associations.

Health Access Connect

  • Student: Kiersten Frobom
  • Location: Kampala, Uganda
  • Organization Type: Non-governmental organization
  • Policy Area: Health services access
  • Primary Skills Used/Developed: Survey development, research, writing

I began a monitoring and evaluation internship with the Uganda-based non-governmental organization Health Access Connect (HAC) in January 2017, working from Madison, Wisconsin through June. In July, I joined HAC in Kampala, Uganda, for a two-month field placement.

Executive Director (and UW-Madison alumnus) Kevin Gibbons oversaw my role, with support from Programme Director Carolyne Ariokot, field staff, temporary research staff, and organizational partners such as KAFOPHAN. HAC’s mission to “link Ugandans living in remote areas with healthcare resources” (, 2017).

Although Uganda has a network of public clinics and hospitals offering free services, people who live more than five kilometers from the clinics may have difficulty accessing these services. Kalangala District, where HAC’s work is currently focused, refers to the 84 Ssese Islands of Lake Victoria. The population of Kalangala District at the last census was approximately 53,000 people (The Daily Monitor, 2014) and the largest island, Bugala, is accessible by car ferry.

However, many people on the islands live far from the 15 health facilities; seven are on Bugala, including a larger health facility (Health Center IV), which offers the most comprehensive services, while the remaining eight are “distributed among the 62 other inhabited islands” (The Daily Monitor, 2016). HAC’s primary goal is to bring public health clinic resources (workers, services, and supplies) to people for whom travel by boat or land to reach a clinic may be time-consuming and costly.

To achieve this goal, HAC facilitates collaboration between health facilities and villages to plan monthly one-day comprehensive health clinics (“outreaches”) and provides microfinancing to local motorcycle taxi (boda-boda) drivers, who transport health workers and supplies to the outreaches.

My main projects for HAC included a literature review, to gain background knowledge on migration, health, and service utilization in Uganda and similarly developed regions. I also consulted on the development and implementation of a population health survey, focusing on demographics, health status, and health-seeking behaviors, to be used for internal program evaluation and quality improvement.

Finally, I conducted policy and practice research in two primary areas, medical supply stock-outs and family planning services, with findings intended for HAC program improvement. As part of this research, Kevin Gibbons and I conducted informal informational interviews with health officials to compare their descriptions of the problem of stock-outs with recent literature. (For confidentiality purposes, names of health officials have been omitted from this paper.)

Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers

  • Student: Nehemiah Chinavare
  • Internship location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization type: Nonprofit
  • Policy area: Health
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Policy analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, nonprofit management

During the summer of 2017, I worked part time for the Wisconsin Area Health Education Centers (WI AHEC) a nonprofit organization at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH). The organization recruits and trains future health care professionals to increase access to health care in medically underserved areas in Wisconsin.

Previously, I was WI AHEC’s statewide communications assistant; however, my duties expanded dramatically based on my capabilities and the organization’s needs.

My primary responsibilities included event planning, program evaluation, program management, and assisting in the preparation of a multi-million-dollar federal grant application. In addition, I assisted with a comprehensive performance report required by the organization’s current federal grant.

I worked primarily with the organization’s assistant director. However, I also worked with the director from time to time and periodically collaborated with members of other SMPH departments and organizations for various projects and events.

During my time with WI AHEC, the organization has experienced several significant changes, including a transition to a new director and the beginning of a strategic planning process for a large organizational shift from direct program execution to oversight of the regional centers. Although these changes have been complicated and at times difficult, working with WI AHEC has been a very rewarding experience.

This is primarily because of the organization’s assistant director, who has been an excellent mentor to me. She has created numerous opportunities for me to use my skills and experience to benefit the organization by creating new projects – such as a program evaluation designed to increase cultural competence. She has also challenged me to broaden my horizons by tackling areas where I am less experienced, with such as marketing and communications. The excellent experience I had working on a federal grant proposal is also due largely to her advocating for my involvement in the process.

City of Madison, Finance Department

  • Student: Omer Arain
  • Internship location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization type: Local government
  • Policy areas: finance, data visualizations, open data
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Performance management, quantitative data collection, political leadership

This summer, I was one of two performance management interns in the City of Madison Finance Department, supervised by a data projects coordinator. Our primary responsibility was guiding two City departments – Streets and Library – through a 12-week engagement to create performance metrics, a data-collection plan, and data-visualization dashboards for their various services.

Each City agency will undergo this process over the next year as part of a citywide transition to outcome-based budgeting, and these agencies served as the pilot.

I also created data visualizations and dashboards for the capital budget, quarterly expenditures, mapping police data, and other topics. The City is still deciding which data analytic software to invest in, so I used both Tableau and Microsoft Power BI and co-wrote memos comparing their applications.

In addition, I conducted background research and attended data management team meetings geared toward City open data; publishing over 1,000 data sets maintained by the many City agencies. Performance management, business intelligence tools, working full time, and operations of local government were valuable new experiences for me, and I learned a considerable amount about contemporary challenges facing government entities.

Michael Best Strategies, LLC

  • Student: Jordan Zordani
  • Internship location: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Organization type: Private industry
  • Policy areas: water, health, international economic
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Consulting, public relations, lobbying

This past summer, I interned at a government relations firm in downtown Madison that has branches in several other states. I was the only intern in the Madison office, which gave me increased responsibility. As this was my first workforce experience, the internship gave me valuable insights into what the world outside academia looks like.

At Michael Best, I conducted research, created presentations, facilitated and attended political fundraisers, met with clients, and presented memos to legislators on subject matters relevant to them. Specifically, I worked on many different projects for clients in various sectors, such as electronics glass manufacturing, employee-sponsored health insurance, wastewater treatment solutions, and economic redevelopment.

Over the course of my internship, I worked on many different projects, from creating a health care tracking document to preparing an agenda for a legislative meeting. Some of my internship duties included researching various legislative topics, preparing memos for clients, attending hearings and agency meetings, and informing legislators’ offices of specific policy areas and solutions.

I would have to say that the best aspect of this internship has been being able to work with a team of such highly experienced, skilled, and knowledgeable people. Throughout the internship, I gained valuable knowledge and skills with regard to the Wisconsin government and its processes. This also gave me the opportunity to seek mentorship from members of the team.

U.S. Department of State – Embassy Berlin – Political Section

  • Student: Casey Hutchison
  • Internship Location: Berlin, Germany
  • Organization Type: Federal government
  • Policy Areas: Foreign affairs, European politics
  • Primary Skills Used/Developed: Memo writing, research

As a political section intern at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, I experienced the implementation of American foreign policy from the inside. Each embassy has several departments, including Public Affairs, which handles the news media and cultural outreach programs; Econ, which deals with economic policy and transnational issues like environment and health; and my section, Political.

Foreign Service officers in Berlin’s Political department are in one of three categories: Internal, External, and Political-Military. I did the majority of my work with the Internal team, which monitors German domestic politics and reports to Washington on the issues that could affect the United States. For example, German parliamentary elections were to be held in the fall after my internship, so I attended the Green party’s conference and reported about its policy proposals.

Every day, there was something new and exciting to work on at the embassy. From drafting letters in German and writing briefing memos for the Chargé d’Affaires (the acting ambassador) to joining officers for demarches to take notes and help prepare the response cable, I never felt like my skills were going to waste. If I hadn’t been there, real Foreign Service officers would have done my tasks instead.

I’m glad my La Follette courses taught me how to write clearly and concisely, because every word counts in this level of government. If you’re writing a memo to the Deputy Chief of Mission, he have only a few seconds to spare; you have to make each word count. Aside from writing, I did background research on key leaders and policy proposals, attended meetings, and talked with employees from across the embassy about their experiences. I could not have imagined a more perfect internship!

The Organization of American States

  • Student: Elgin Karls
  • Internship Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization Type: international organization
  • Policy Areas: public affairs and foreign affairs
  • Primary Skills Utilized/Developed: policy analysis, memo writing, qualitative data collection and analysis

I worked in the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OAS) during the summer of 2017. In this position, I supported the mission and its 16 regional offices in a variety of capacities. My principal task was designing a table for recording important information from weekly alerts and reports produced by the MASPP-OAS Regional Offices. From this table, I created a live action map to display information interactively. On this map, users can compare OAS observations and information with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia transition zones, which traditionally have been controlled by illegal groups, drug-trafficking routes, and other details.

In addition, I prepared memorandum on issues relating to the Organization of American States and the Colombian peace process. During my internship, I attended many seminars and conferences about the peace process at the Wilson Center, Inter-American Dialogue, and the Washington Office of Latin America. Furthermore, I worked alongside OAS employees and interns from all across the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. Department of State

  • Student: Alison Harrell
  • Internship location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization type: Federal government
  • Policy area: Regional and economic policy
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Policy analysis, professional writing, collaboration among stakeholders

I spent the summer of 2017 as an intern at the U.S. Department of State – Bureau of African Affairs - Office of Economic and Regional Affairs, which oversees activities in 49 Sub-Saharan Africa countries and coordinates with sub-regional offices in African Affairs and functional bureaus throughout the department.

I spent most of my time supporting the regional/multilateral affairs team, but worked on some projects with the economic team. During my internship, I took on a wide variety of projects such as waivers for the Trafficking in Persons and Child Soldiers Prevention Act, combatting wildlife trafficking, and preparations for the United Nations General Assembly.

Because my colleagues assigned me substantial projects and included me as a member of the team, I experienced real government work and now realize how much I enjoy it. This summer was a very interesting time at the State Department, where I not only experienced the intersection of politics and policy daily, but I also witnessed the incredible resilience to adversity among my co-workers that comes from being passionate about your job.

My internship also afforded me many realizations about the type of work I like, my ideal work environment, key skills to develop and maintain, and the importance of networking. I am so grateful for the funding I received from La Follette to have this opportunity at the Bureau of African Affairs!


  • Student: Christopher A. Meyers
  • Internship location: Washington, D.C.
  • Organization type: Private industry
  • Policy area: Politics
  • Primary skills used/developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, performance management, political leadership

I had a great experience with Crowdpac in Washington, D.C., working as a crowdfunding fellow to help candidates and organizations raise money for their political campaigns and causes. I consulted with numerous candidates to optimize their campaigns and help raise money using grassroots support and fund-raising techniques. I also made numerous overtures to state and local political and activism organizations to spread and promote the idea of crowdfunding to run for office.

The best part of the experience was beginning on a journey with people who did not know what they wanted to run for, but putting these beliefs into action for those who want to be active in politics and make a difference. Through this process, we worked as a company to help people find an office to run for, learn how to run the campaign, and brainstorm the best ways to raise funds for their specific race.

I spent a lot of time reaching out and talking to candidates, learning more about why they are running for office, what motivates them to keep running, and what issues are weighing on their communities across the country.

It was clear working with Crowdpac that people are politically active more now than ever before, and that the current political climate is waking up more dormant activists than we have seen following past elections. The resurgent interest in democracy and dependence on institutions was one of the most interesting aspects of working in Washington, D.C., where I helped those who may feel they do not have a voice in the United States run for elective office.

Resource Management Agency of Monterey County

  • Student: Travis Shoemaker
  • Internship location: Salinas, California
  • Organization type: Local government
  • Policy area: Performance management
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Qualitative data collection/analysis, quantitative data collection/analysis, performance management

La Follette School alumna Kate Battiato hired me to work as an intern at the Monterey County Resource Management Agency (RMA). As a paid intern, I assisted Kate in evaluating the agency’s internal and external performance measures in an effort to revamp the “Managing for Results” program. I had to familiarize myself with the five Key Performance Measures that the agency’s departments had been reporting since the program’s inception five years ago. It became necessary to investigate where the data came from, how it was compiled, and the reasoning behind choosing each measure.

At the same time, I had to learn the main tenets of performance measurement and performance management. I drew most of that knowledge from Harry Hatry’s Performance Measurement: Getting Results. As Hatry recommends, Kate and I brought our suggested changes to senior RMA leadership. Many of our proposals were well-received and will be implemented at the beginning of the RMA’s next fiscal year.

Using Hatry’s textbook and with guidance from Kate, I became comfortable enough with performance measurement to recommend changes to the agency’s program, write instructional material on the subject, create educational videos for managers, and advise managers on how they might use these new tools.

As a part of this larger project, I drafted memos, conducted research, attended meetings, and summarized reports. These tasks presented opportunities to learn new skills and hone those that I had previously used only in an academic capacity. The constructive criticism and guidance that I received from Kate regarding my writing skills was invaluable, as I had previously had little experience writing outside of an academic setting. Kate’s instruction has taught me to write for a bureaucratic and professional audience.

Montgomery County Council/Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation

  • Student: Anna Wright
  • Internship location: Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Organization type: Local government, nonprofit
  • Policy areas: Agriculture and food policy, waste management, and cybersecurity
  • Primary skills utilized/developed: Policy analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, nonprofit management

This summer, I worked as a summer associate at the Montgomery County Economic Development Corporation (MCEDC) in Montgomery County, Maryland. My program was coordinated through the Montgomery County Council, and my supervisor assigned me projects both for the County Council and for MCEDC.

I worked alongside six other interns from various backgrounds and graduate schools, including Harvard Law, Harvard Kennedy School, Georgetown School of Public Policy, Georgetown Business School, University of Maryland School of Public Policy, and University of Pennsylvania School of Urban Planning and Design.

I was directly advised on my research by staff at the County Council and at MCEDC. I had the freedom to choose my projects as long as it was relevant to the county. Some of my projects were completed in group settings, while others were individual.

For County Council, I wrote several memos for council members on inclusionary zoning policy, and I researched gaps in county immigration services. My three main individual projects were for MCEDC. There, I researched how to better support the food production industry, I developed an event to facilitate tech transfer among federal research, entrepreneurs, and municipal governments, and I researched how to reduce barriers to entry for private composting companies.

The internship also included weekly off-site programming, such as visits with chief executive officers in Montgomery County, tours of federal research labs, interviews with nonprofit directors, and opportunities to meet with county officials.

Nanubhai Education Foundation

  • Student: Ryan LeCloux
  • Internship location: Gujarat, India
  • Organization type: International non-governmental organization (NGO)
  • Policy areas: education; women's empowerment
  • Primary skills used/developed: Quantitative data collection/analysis, qualitative data collection/analysis, program evaluation, nonprofit management

I interned at the Nanubhai Education Foundation (NEF), a small nonprofit organization focusing on women’s education and empowerment in Gujarat, India. NEF runs a scholarship program that provides scholarships specifically for girls in rural India to go to college.

My primary role was in monitoring and evaluating the scholarship program, which allowed me to directly apply skills learned in my International Program Evaluation class. My duties included managing logistics for the 2017 scholar applicant selection process, conducting interviews with current scholarship recipients, and managing and analyzing data on the organization’s new 2017 scholar cohort.

I found the task of analyzing the bio-data on our new scholars to be particularly interesting and challenging. I compiled statistics on our scholars, including income, parents’ education level, first generation college attendance status, religion, caste, and more. These statistics portray the demographics of whom the scholarship program serves and reveal information regarding the financial vulnerability of the scholars. The organization uses this data to drive programming changes, including the targeting and selection of future scholars.

Working in India was an enriching and enlightening experience because I learned firsthand the unique challenges in managing a scholarship program in a developing country. India itself presents unique infrastructural and cultural challenges (such as the unreliability of family income information) that made data collection and analysis difficult. My internship proved to be an invaluable experience because I was able to directly apply and develop skills learned at La Follette and I was challenged to address issues unique to a non-governmental organization operating in a foreign country.