I wanted to get an internship in DC for two reason: the first being whether or not I wanted to work in a federal agency and the future, and the other being that I wanted to decide whether or not DC would be a place that I would be happy to live in. At the University of Michigan, I was extensively involved with the Roosevelt Institute. Roosevelt is a student-run public policy think tank that identifies problems in our community and beyond, and thinks of ways of how to address these issues by amending policy on the local and state level. I want to work in a similar setting where I can identify problems that affect people in our community and figure out tangible solutions to those problems.
The first few days in the DOT have highlighted that its motives are in-line with the same solution-making values of Roosevelt, however they handle it in different ways. One of the first things my boss said to me was that he, along with many people that he works with joined the DOT because they felt that they could have the most direct effect on real changes that help people. However, I’ve learned that the federal government does not have as much leeway as most private and nonprofit organizations do. The bureaucratic form of government makes it so new ideas need to be approved through a series of administrators in order to gain any momentum. Rather than helping people through innovating, federal agencies like the DOT seem more specialized in maintaining and streamlining current regulations, rather than proposing new solution to existent problems. Outside congressional forces seem like they have more of a role in the area of changing policy.