I’ve worked for my current employer for over four years now and there’s been one constant throughout that time: our interns. Our public policy internship program is a paid internship for two psychology graduate students to work in our Public Interest Government Relations office in DC. The interns spend one year with us learning how psychological research can be applied to public policy. The internship exists because there’s very little programming that addresses public policy and advocacy in psychology doctoral programs. Some of the interns who apply for this position express an interest in policy while others see this as an opportunity to step outside the world of academia.
I’ve worked with 10 interns now and I can say without a doubt these young men and women have become valuable members of our team. When we need a document turned around in 2 hours, it’s been accomplished within an 1/2 hour. When we need someone to attend a meeting because everyone else was busy, they step in without hesitation. When we had to have folders delivered to every Senate office, the interns jumped at the chance. They want to learn more and offer assistance as needed.
This is not to say that mistakes haven’t been made. Many of our interns never worked in an office and lacked many of those basic skills. Even though they were earning a doctorate in psychology (not an easy task), a few needed a bit more handholding than others. I’ve learned a lot about my own management style and saw areas for growth and improvement.
Our year-longs (our nickname for the interns) will be wrapping up their time with us in August. They’ve been a great help to us during a year of transition for our team. I don’t think I could get half of my daily to-do list accomplished if it wasn’t for these future psychologists. If you have an intern in your office who’s done some really great work for you, take a moment to thank them. I’m sure they will appreciate it.