My internship has differed from my initial expectations in a number of important ways. First, I was pleasantly surprised by the Partnership for Public Service’s openness. This was especially impressive because of the open and trusting attitude adopted by employees throughout the organization, including the leadership. The organization is far less hierarchical and formal than one would think for a professional organization that regularly works with the federal government and large NGOs. Every staff member makes themselves available to speak to or to ask for help, this includes the CEO and the rest of the executive team. They are also very forthright in sharing information with interns and keeping them up to date with the organization’s policies and day-to-day operations. At the beginning of my first day, they had an all-staff meeting in which they went over the yearly budget and fundraising efforts, not information that I would expect to have access to, let alone in my first meeting as an intern. I was also surprised by the quotidian visibility and impact my organization has on the discussion around federal government efficiency. Just in my own projects, we have worked with The Washington Post (pictured above), IBM, and a litany of federal agencies. Our President also regularly speaks to the media and publishes op-eds with national newspapers. Occasionally, he is also invited to speak before Congressional hearings, as he did last week. It’s not that I thought the Partnership did unimportant work, one of the reasons that I applied and accepted their offer was because of the appeal of their organizational mission, but I didn’t realize how well known the Partnership for Public Service was in DC circles. I for one had never heard of it before applying to the internship program.
Yet and still, I found that most of my internship has been as I expected it would be. For the most part, the work I personally do, as opposed to the workplace culture and the stature of the organization, is what I expected. I deal mainly with data and databases and with qualitative research based on interviews and reports. My work is also as meaningful and significant to the organization as I’d hoped. For my portfolio of projects, I contribute significant background research that will inform our programs and our issue briefs. I also am present for many of our interviews with federal agencies for these projects. For these interviews, I mainly take notes on important points and summarize the key points in internal memos to the rest of my project team. Finally, I do a significant amount of data work on several large projects that are very visible for the Partnership. Overall, this work is what I expected to do be doing.