My internship at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce has helped me more clearly identify what my career goals are, but in different and even paradoxical ways. While the Chamber has cemented my goal in undertaking a career in public policy, my experience during the course of certain tasks has helped clarify what particular aspects of policy I want to pursue. For example, the last few weeks of my internship were consumed by the time I spent updating some of the economic dashboards the Chamber published annually with new statistics on things such as standards of living, income disparities, and so on.
While the end result and the analyses of those results did prove to be very interesting, the actual work involved in gathering the data and the skill required in understanding how to get certain numbers was not exactly my area of expertise. I experienced profound difficulty in terms working excel, getting the formulas for specific calculations and numbers, and actually finding the data we could use — and I often relied on the aid of other interns and the head of our economic research bureau, who had assigned us the task. Of course, we were given the dashboards only AFTER I had published my fifth blog post, on what my greatest challenges during the internship were. Had I been a bit more procrastinatory, perhaps my fifth blog post may have been a bit more substantial in terms of practical work.
However, without the difficulty of dashboards, there were many tasks and aspects of work that I truly did enjoy during my internship. I loved to work on understanding and crafting arguments for certain policies from the business perspective, which I believe would be very useful for me in the future. I did enjoy getting to hear a diverse array of perspectives and policies from the members of the Chamber I met, as well as the intricacies of the policymaking process. Therefore, as you can well see, I have always considered myself to be a qualitative rather than quantitative person in terms of the work I want to pursue.
This experience and the attitudes attained as a result of it does largely reflect my academic course of study – I’ve often tried to maintain a comfortable distance from anything mathematical, and I long ago dismissed the idea of pursuing an education that was rooted in economics, even though I did see the great benefits of it. While I most likely will continue to pursue an education influenced by international relations, I do want to gain more exposure to the business world, as the Chamber has indeed opened up that pathway to me. So while I may not specifically sign up for a class in the business school or pursue an economics minor, I do want to gain more practical and real-world experience through internships and work experience which would provide me with the tools necessary to succeed in those environments.