How to succeed in internships and jobs (and maybe even as a student)
Dan Lindley, with suggestions from his Govt 324, Intro to USFP class, Spring 2000
October 27, 2005; v. .9
I write this memo having worked at four internships and jobs in Washington D.C. after college, after watching the rise and occasional fall of my fellow students during a lengthy stint in grad school, and after tracking the progress of some of my students.
Two Functions of Jobs: Learning and Progress
There are two things to learn at each job you have, especially when you are in college, or have recently graduated. The first is whether you like the job at all. Whether you like it or do not like it, there are lessons to be learned. Think hard and also spend time listening to your heart and intuitions. Have the courage, after deliberation, to flee (after duly fulfilling your responsibilities). Finding out what you like to do and want to do often involves figuring out what you do not like or want to do.
The second thing to learn at the job is enough skills to progress to the next job or to get a promotion within the job. Keep your eyes and brain open and learn what you can at all opportunities. Go to meetings, meet people, read things. Volunteer to take on more responsibilities. Always be excellent.
The Key to Progress: Reputation
Above all, remember that your reputation is key to your progress.
Strategies while on the job
The following is a copy of an ad for an excellent arms control internship from http://www.fas.org/intern.htm. Much can be learned about the nature and benefits of all internships from reading this ad.
The Federation of American Scientists (FAS) is looking for a few good interns...
What is the Federation?
Founded in 1945 by atomic scientists of the Manhattan Project, FAS is dedicated to the responsible use of science and technology. As a non-profit organization licensed to lobby in the public interest, FAS brings a scientific perspective to the legislative arena through direct lobbying, expert testimony, media and grassroots work. FAS engages in analysis and public
education on a broad range of science, technology, and public policy issues, but the bulk of our work focuses on arms control and disarmament issues. For more information about the work of the Federation, visit our homepage at http://www.fas.org/
FAS Projects currently looking for interns:
Military Analysis Network
Arms Sales Monitoring Project
Space Policy Project
Tasks will be varied, and differ by project. The internships will involve some mix of the following substantive and administrative activities:
Development of the organization's homepage on the World Wide Web. You will gain webskills from scanning to coding to indexing and uploading documents onto the Web. You will also conduct research via the internet, and use the Web for fostering citizen activism around policy issues of concern.
Representing the organization at coalition and working group meetings and attending Congressional hearings. Liaising with coalition partners and participate in document drops on Capitol Hill. Helping to arrange Congressional staff briefings and other sorts of meetings.
Tracking down Congressional, Executive Branch and other documents. Organizing and maintaining research files and the library's fairly extensive collection of daily, weekly and monthly publications.
Writing, editing, and desktop publishing.
What's in it for you?
These are not your ordinary Washington internships, and they are not for ordinary interns. If you are afraid of hard work, and inparticular if you get nervous around computers, you should almost certainly look elsewhere. But if you qualify, you will b egiven immediate responsiblity for helping build and maintain one of the premier public policy websites. Your main compensation
will be experience and pride of accomplishment. We don't offer a lot of money, just a modest stipend to cover expenses, whichwill vary according to hours worked.
But the experience will benefit you in many other ways:
You will gain professional experience, including marketable computer skills.
You will gain familiarity with the national policy community, finding out who does what. This networking and exposure will help you refine your employment interests and help you identify employment possibilities.
You will work on Capitol Hill and gain first hand exposure to all aspects of the legislative process. In particular, you will come to understand the role of public interest groups and the media in shaping public policy.
You will learn important research skills, like how to access government information.
You will learn about policy issues from people who are experts in their fields. You will be exposed to a variety of work habits and styles, in a busy and informal office setting.
In addition, you will work with an operation that has unusually high national visibility in the mass media, and gain a first-hand understanding of how the mass media operate.
If you do a good job here, you will get letters of recommendation from nationally recognized sources that will go a long way towards getting you a real job, or getting you into the graduate school of your choice .....
What we're looking for:
Applicants should have excellent interpersonal and organizational skills and a good attitude. Familiarity with PCs using Word Perfect for Windows is important and some knowledge of the web is helpful, but not required. Of course, preference is given to those who can hit the ground running, or at least convince us that your existing computer literacy provides a solid basis for mastering internet-related skills.
The term of the internship is a minimum of one semester with a possibility for continuation. Preference will be given to those who are prepared to make a longer commitment. We would like a time commitment of a minimum of 15 hours per week, but we are flexible in how the hours are scheduled.
To apply: Send a cover letter, your resume, and a one page essay explaining your interest in working for us. Please indicate which project you would like to work with and highlight any relevant skills, experience or knowledge you may have on that topic. For the Military Analysis Network or the Space Policy Project, please send the above information to John Pike, Project Director For all other positions, please send information to "Internship Coordinator"
Federation of American Scientists
307 Massachusetts Avenue NE
Washington, DC 20002
You may also send in the above materials via fax to (202) 675-1010; or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Internships are open until filled.
NOTE: The Herbert Scoville Jr. Peace Fellowship provides stipends for college graduates to work with peace and security organizations in Washington, DC, including FAS, for four to six months.
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