Summer Internship Series: Doing Policy in DC

Leah Hansler ‘18

Policy Intern, National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, Arlington, VA

Summer internship series: doing policy in dc - lh-nb-office.png image #0My name is Leah Hansler and I’m a senior political science major and philosophy minor. This summer I was a policy intern at the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards near Washington, DC.

The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) seeks to elevate the teaching profession and improve the quality of teaching and learning in the US. It maintains rigorous teacher-set standards of what accomplished teachers should know and be able to do and provides a voluntary certification process for teachers who meet these standards. NBPTS works with other education-related organizations and advocates for policies related to teacher professional development, teacher leadership, and embedding national standards in school systems and teacher preparation programs.

While I have sought out experiences related to policy and advocacy throughout my college career, I did not have experience with education policy prior to this internship and I was excited to learn and work in a new field. My supervisor, Sarah Pinsky, gave me meaningful and interesting projects and had me sitting in on meetings and conference calls on my very first day. I also had the opportunity to help with other projects and departments, like editing part of a grant proposal and participating in Strategy and Policy team meetings.  I had two main projects, which were both meaningful learning experiences that added value to the organization. Drawing on my experience in advocacy, one of my projects was to design a series of resources to help the networks of National Board Certified teachers (NBCTs) around the country with their political advocacy efforts. I finished six handouts during my internship, addressing topics like “What is Advocacy and Why is it Important for NBCTs”, “Building Relationships with Policymakers”, and “Legislative Processes”. Before I left, I wrote a document with suggestions for how to use the resources going forward. The handouts are available to all NBCTs and will be used to inform the organization’s broader advocacy goals for the year.

Drawing on my experience with research, my other main project was to go through all research that references NBPTS, create a database of the research with detailed analysis, and then to create a summary document of general themes and overarching findings from what I had read so far. While I was not able or expected to finish going through all the research during my summer there, the summary document and database I started will be available internally to all NBPTS staff to aid in grant proposals, resources, and projects.

Summer internship series: doing policy in dc - lh-capitol-building.jpg image #1

I learned so much from my experience with National Board. I refined my advocacy and research skills, learned about important education policies, and received a more intimate understanding of how education is governed in the US as well as how US government works in general. I also gained a better understanding of how nonprofit organizations function and how to collaborate effectively within them. Additionally, both because of my internship and because I was living in DC, I had the opportunity to attend several events, briefings, and advocacy activities related to topics that interest me. I went to the constituent coffee for Senator Sherrod Brown, the full House markup of an appropriations bill, and several panels hosted by the Center for American Progress and the World Affairs Council DC, to name just a few. I improved my networking skills and learned about what it’s like to be part of the policy community in DC.

Because of my internship and my time in DC, I know that I want to pursue a career in policy, advocacy, and projects for a nonprofit organization. I also came away from the experience wanting to learn more about education and curious about how the practice of teaching could fit into my other interests and goals. My internship helped me decide to take an Education class at Denison this semester and to apply for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship.

I could not have had this wonderful experience without Dr. Pool and Dr. Katz in the Political Science department, the Knowlton Center, and the Cephus L. Stephens Public Affairs Internship Stipend. I also must thank my amazing supervisor, Sarah Pinsky, as well as all the other colleagues at National Board I had the pleasure to know and work with this summer. I am grateful to them for affording me an internship opportunity that was everything I could have wanted and more.

Summer Internship Series: Surfing through Five Rivers Metro Parks

Will Shepard ’20

Five Rivers Metro Parks, Dayton, Ohio

My name is Will Shepard. I’m from Thetford Vermont which is a tiny little town about twenty minute drive away from Dartmouth college. I am 21 years old and a sophomore here at Denison studying Political Science. I took a gap year last school year and went to New Zealand and had an absolute blast. On my return I got an internship with Five Rivers Metro Parks in Dayton Ohio, made possible through a stipend with Denison. I appreciated my internship a ton, and even though I know now that working in a public park is not what I want to do after college, I think that it has inspired me to pursue something in the government sector.

I achieved a decently significant amount during my internship, I was able to help set up and organize a website that detailed every single trail in the fifteen parks that Five Rivers runs. This project was probably my favorite thing to do because it required me to work with my officemates on how best to showcase the park. I had to detail every trail and write up how they should best be used, the attractions they provided, and when was the opportune time to visit that park and those trails. I had a lot of fun doing that project. I also worked on setting up the annual Bike to Work Day, which involved getting vendors and local businesses to come and sponsor the event. That was a lot of work, but well worth it as the event was incredibly successful.

I think that this internship provided me with a lot of knowledge. That knowledge comes in a variety of ways. I think that I am much better equipped to deal with communicating effectively in the office space as well as being able to effectively communicate with other, outside businesses. I was able to gain the confidence to suggest that they get the University of Dayton more involved with the park by offering programs that the university students could participate in and even get community service hours for completing.

I expected a little bit more work on environmental stewardship work, but was happily surprised when that was actually translated into getting the locals to be more involved in the park system. I was really happy working for them during the six weeks. Although I would not do it again because I know that that isn’t where I want to be post college, I am incredibly grateful to Denison for receiving the stipend to make it all possible.

Summer Internship Series: Journey on the Path to Find the Cure for Cancer

Neel Kejriwal ’18

National Cancer Institute

My name is Neel Kejriwal, I am a Biochemistry major and currently a senior. Over my summer I had the opportunity to work at one of the top cancer research labs in the country- NCI under the guidance of well renowned scientists from all around the world. It was a three-month experience where I spent the first few weeks shadowing and understanding the roles of the researchers in the field and then actually working on a research project. My project was interesting. It involved fixing and operating a digilab robot which could pipette up and down tumor cells and dispense them into 96 well plates in forms of microdroplets. This was created in a 4X4 array of drops. To these drops, drugs of different concentrations were added and using accurate imaging, the results were displayed. It was particularly fascinating, in my opinion to see how different fields of research played a vital role in studies primarily in the chemistry and biology fields, through modern innovations.

The robotics system I was working with was a sophisticated piece of equipment which was bought 2 years ago but was unused since it was very difficult to operate. I was given the task to understand the mechanism of operating it and perform the experiments. This was a very useful contribution to the national cancer institute since there is so much potential which microdroplets of cells could have with drug resistance. My results initially kept leading to errors but with constant observations, tweeks, and changes, I came up with a concrete protocol which matched my hypothesis.

In addition to the fantastic experience I had working for the organization, living on my own by renting a room in a single-family house gave me a perspective on independent living. My lab was in the middle of an army base called fort Detrick, so it was also really interesting to see the tight security and the safety precautions that was standardized in these government buildings.

Overall, my summer experience gave me a very broad experience on skills which would help me in my career into pharmacology and research and allowed me to have the exposure to work for a public based organization such as the national cancer institute. I have made some major contributions which might be published with more research and would help advance more innovations in science.   

Summer Internship Series: Commerce in Cleveland

A.J. Koch ’18

US Commercial Service, Cleveland, Ohio

My name is A.J. Koch and I am a junior PPE major from Shaker Heights, Ohio. This summer I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of interning at the US Commercial Service in downtown Cleveland, which is the export promotional arm of the US Department of Commerce.

A typical day in the office consisted of not only the usual intern tasks of making calls, filing and data entry in Salesforce, but real concrete projects that helped trade specialists and clients directly. The Commercial Service is a network of offices in all major cities domestically as well as in 70 different embassies abroad. The goal of the US Commercial Services is to assist small-mid level local American companies in any of their export pursuits. Each company we worked with had different needs meaning that every day was different. Some common projects that I worked on for companies were market research and international marketing plans for a variety of industries in most regions of the world. These projects were very satisfying because the trade specialists would directly present my research to the clients in their meetings. It was great to actually help these small businesses grow their sales, with some of them reaping the benefits by the end of the summer.

Amy Freedman, my supervisor was an excellent source of information, putting together a weekly intern meeting with me and the other intern to go over all the big areas of exporting, compliance, and marketing. Through these sessions, I was able to learn a lot of technical, in depth business skills that my economics and political science classes weren’t able to teach me. I really appreciated her willingness to answer questions. I was extremely grateful of the extra effort that she put in such as letting me tag along on client meetings, and inviting me to networking opportunities with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs.  Sue Whitney, the office director was also extremely helpful. After working on the administrative planning for the Discover Global Markets Conference all summer, she invited me to come help out at the DGM in September. The skills, information and connections that I made this summer were extremely invaluable, and I couldn’t have asked for a better internship experience.     

Summer Internship Series: My Summer in Civil Rights

Maddy Bellman ’18
My summer in civil rights - 2000px-seal_of_the_ohio_civil_rights_commission.svg_-150x150.png image #0Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Intern, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Columbus, Ohio

My name is Maddy Bellman, and I’m currently a senior English major! Thanks to the Knowlton Center and Denison alumna Mary Turocy, I spent my summer in Columbus, Ohio, working with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (OCRC) as the Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE) intern.

As a PACE intern, my day-to-day changed quite a bit. I balanced working on my own projects, attending Commission meetings, and shadowing employees in intake, mediation, and follow-up conferences with charging parties. I also saw House of Representatives sessions, Senate subcommittee meetings, and contacted legislators to discuss their sponsored bills.

It was a new experience for me to work in an office for almost forty hours a week, and it certainly took some adjusting to. I had my own office, my own phone, and a normal lunch hour. The work was always changing, but I wished the office was busier and the work more urgent. Working for any part of the government often means slow yet purposeful progress, so while I appreciated the necessary steps we had to take when doing our work, I hope my post-graduate job will involve more exigent projects.

Sitting in on mediations between a charging party and a respondent opened my eyes to a possible career path after graduation. Sonya, an OCRC mediator, and I helped with a number of successful mediation between two parties, and our most notable mediation settled for almost fifty-thousand dollars.

It was great working with Sonya because she was always calm, impartial, and did everything she could to ensure a successful settlement. It takes a special type of person to be a mediator, and one of my coworkers said I’m well-suited for the position.

My largest project this summer was the standardization of 53 documents for the five regional OCRC offices. I worked with our Chief Legal Counsel on this project to make sure every document had the proper letterhead, grammar, and formatting, and the purpose of this process is to protect our office from potential legal issues down the road.

I noticed and corrected a number of inconsistencies in the documents I worked on, and my project supervisors appreciated this. This was a difficult and tedious project, but my project supervisor made it all worth it when she said I did “two years of work in two days”!

Thank you to the Knowlton Center and generous alumni who made this internship possible through financial aid and pre-internship preparation. I can’t thank Mary Turocy ’05 enough for sponsoring me as an intern this summer. I learned valuable lessons of compassion and selflessness from the dedicated, caring people I worked with, and I appreciated all of my time with them.