Before October 2016, I had not heard of the National Academy of Public Administration. I started looking into it just to learn more, not expecting it...
Before October 2016, I had not heard of the National Academy of Public Administration. I started looking into it just to learn more, not expecting it to turn into a summer internship. But I am so glad it did. While there were a myriad of tasks I completed, from helping make contact lists for the Governing Across the Divide events this fall to summarizing case studies to picking out clips from old interviews, I spent the majority of my summer (about a month and half) doing research on the past 25 years of the organization’s history.
This task was daunting, especially as it was for a summary of the Academy in honor of its 50th Anniversary, and one that could not have been done without other interns. It involved going through and organizing financial statements, archived webpages (going back to the Academy’s first website), and 25 years of Academy reports.
Through this task, I refined and improved my research skills, my teamwork skills, and my analysis skills. But it’s not what I got better at that is important. It’s what I learned. I learned more about the importance of public administration. I learned about the myriad of ways in which organizations like the Academy (though, there is no other organization quite like the Academy) can be influential and helpful. I learned more about the work that needs to be done to help solve problems, and the dedication of the people that do it.
The latter was also made known to me while going through old interviews from the 40th anniversary. Through this task, I learned not only what I just expounded on, but the diverse range and backgrounds of people who work in public administration and government, and the different paths people can take to get there.
So, to sum up my time at the National Academy of Public Administration? I learned a lot. I developed a new, more complex, more nuanced view on public administration. I began to fully understand the importance of it. I worked with some great people. I developed my skills. A summer well spent.
I went into school knowing that I had a ton of interests, yet fully realizing I had no real direction. I was in a similar...
I went into school knowing that I had a ton of interests, yet fully realizing I had no real direction. I was in a similar state when I reached NAPA; ideas were carrying me everywhere, and I was looking to plant my feet on some solid ground.
Think of NAPA as a cross between a think tank and a consulting group. It conducts business with many different parts of the government, and in my mind, lots of clients meant lots of different work, ergo I would be exposed to a wide variety of experiences and learn more about myself. My assessment was right.
I interned in the summer of 2016, so my team worked on materials targeting the bureaucratic transition after November’s presidential election. We had multiple projects—one of which was drafting a document that detailed 100 of the “toughest’ positions in government. Each position had to be deemed critically important for the coming administration, and they had to be non-political positions (i.e. not some position that would be more of a talking head than a leader with actual responsibilities for their agency, department, etc.). We also attended seminars, white paper presentations, and tabletop events at other organizations which were aimed at improving different aspects of government and governance.
Yet, the most valuable thing NAPA offered me was freedom. I could explore and work how I wanted to without being micromanaged. Furthermore, I was treated like a real employee with work that was valuable and would be used to inform real-world decision makers.
So what is NAPA like? It’s a fun and challenging environment, where you can expect to grow and learn. I could not have asked for a better place to jumpstart my career.
My summer internship at National Academy of Public Administration aided in my professional development. Even small details made an impact. For example, just by virtue...
My summer internship at National Academy of Public Administration aided in my professional development. Even small details made an impact. For example, just by virtue of working in a public administration space I became more familiar with jargon in that field. I learned what things like “Yellow Book” and “360 review” meant. Additionally, I was able to visit the GAO with my study team, and also visit them again during an excursion exclusively organized for NAPA interns to learn about GAO career opportunities.
At the start of my internship, I was tasked with brainstorming social media ideas with the COMM team. However, as time went on, my main assignment was to help write and edit meeting notes for the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine study team! I wrote and edited well over twenty meeting notes gathered during interviews with sponsors and stakeholders from a variety of organizations such as NASA. The notes collected during those interviews were later used to produce an internal report. Also, the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s study team was in the process of preparing to present their preliminary findings. The aim of the study team’s internal report is to provide guidance for the National Academy of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. That guidance should help the Academies implement changes to improve employee satisfaction and their re-branding process, amongst other goals.
On the study team, I worked with a dynamic trio including the project manager Cynthia Heckman, Dr. Joe Mitchell, and Dr. Jonathan Tucker. From my team members, I learned important lessons on professionalism. For example, I learned how to approach the professional writing process with greater sophistication, etiquette on how to interact with others in a professional setting, and more. The most transformational part of it all was learning how to increase my work ethic. From my summer internship, I takeaway greater confidence in my ability to perform in a professional capacity, a broader network, and newfound appreciation public administration’s capacity to enact social change.
Over the past eight weeks, I have been blessed to have been placed with the National Academy of Public Administration with Randy Lyon and Marcia...
Over the past eight weeks, I have been blessed to have been placed with the National Academy of Public Administration with Randy Lyon and Marcia Vernon as my direct supervisors. From the finance perspective, the Academy is well-funded and is being requested constantly. The Academy works in a very efficient manner. They hold staff meetings once a quarter to make sure all employees are on the same page and know what is happening in other departments.
The mission of the Academy is “to provide non-partisan advice in order to assist government leaders in creating a more effective, efficient, accountable, and transparent organizations” (www.napawash.org). Over the past two months, I can truthfully say that the Academy is fulfilling its mission, one organization at a time. It seeks to accomplish its mission by consulting with different organizations and showing them more cost efficient or cost effective ways of achieving the organizations’ personal goals. I was working with primarily the finance and accounting teams and thus, was unable to see much of the action that went into strategizing with the consulting organization, but many other interns were able to see this process in action with organizations such as: the Environmental Protection Agency, Maritime Administration, Project Management Institute, the Transportation Security Administration, and much more.
My internship experience with the National Academy of Public Administration has been one of the most rewarding summers of my life. I am able to do what I love in finance and accounting in addition to helping a wonderful non-profit achieve its goals. This time with the Academy has changed my perspective on how I see Washington DC. While Washington DC is our nation’s capital and has plenty of politics to go around, there are so many non-profit and non-governmental organizations that make it their duties’ to help others.
I have also taken the time this summer with my internship to grow into a professional both in and out of the office. I took every assignment seriously and never assumed any assignment or meeting was unimportant. It takes effort to become serious about an internship. Why would you be? It is unpaid and some employers take their interns for granted. Not at NAPA. I was treated like a real employee, not just someone who was going to be around for eight weeks. I felt as if I was part of the team and that made my experience so much more rewarding.
It has been said that many lessons are learned from making a mistake, and my experiences with the National Academy of Public Administration is no different. It is easy to be dedicated in the beginning of the internship because everything is new, fun, and fresh. It is so simple in fact, that it is easy to get caught up in making new friends rather than focusing on the job in front of you. I ran into this issue several times. With there being nine other interns the office, I was caught up in making friends with them at first and not quite taking the time to focus on other projects and ask for more to do. I slacked off in the beginning, but quickly realized that my job at the Academy was not to make friends, but to make sure my supervisors were giving me the real on the job experience I desired. I did not apply to the Academy to make friends (although it is now a nice perk), I came to make connections with current employees that will be able to assist me in finding a job come October or November of this year.