12September2011

Simple equals accessible

Posted by tedeatley18 under: Uncategorized.

In my final blog post I want to discuss the biggest take away I had during my diabetes internship this summer. Working on the construction of DiabetesLocal.org really opened my eyes to the power of Internet based health. In this day and age humans are becoming increasingly dependent on technology. While I refuse to take a stance on the appropriateness of our continued reliance on the cyber world; I do think that there is a lot of potential to improve how the Internet displays and provides information.

When I first started my internship, my supervisor emphasized that Baby-boomers and older generations are not technically savvy. My parents are a testament to that statement, however, Baby-boomer’s have the highest prevalence rate of diabetes than any other generational group. My supervisor explained the importance of making diabetes local user-friendly for that very reason – the people using the site found computers to be daunting and confusing!

So why harp on the future of Internet based health? Since the Internet is free and becoming increasingly accessible across the United States, individuals who may not live in urban areas can find information and resources they need without physically traveling to find answers about the disease that he/she might be suffering from. If more sites focused on being simple rather then flashy, the computer might not seem like a foreign object an older population.

Many of us (myself included) take for granted how easy it is to search and find information on the computer. DiabetesLocal tries to cut out the middle man and provide services and contact information based on an individual’s home town. I truly feel that this type of search engine has a bright future for any number of diseases. The Internet can very well be the future of credible health information and resources, but it is our job to make websites interactive and simple for everyone to use.

 

 

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12September2011

True Life: DOJ Intern

Posted by Jill Olszewski under: Uncategorized.

I know you are all curious about a day in the life of a DOJ Public Affairs (OPA) Intern –so rather than leave you hanging, I thought I would take a few moments to not only explain OPA’s infrastructure but also discuss the one task that is essential to the office’s daily operation: responding to press inquiries.

The OPA, in case you were wondering, is home to twenty spokespersons, press assistants, speechwriters, and general support staff. Each spokesperson and press assistant is responsible for a division of and/or certain aspect of DOJ. For example, while the criminal division spokespersons handle inquiries that pertain to fraud, gang violence, and extraditions, the antitrust division spokesperson responds to inquiries that relate to mergers, acquisitions, and anticompetitive practices. Beyond the criminal and antitrust division press officers, the office is also home to the civil and tax, civil rights, environment and natural resources, and national security division spokespersons. Like their colleagues, they handle inquiries that relate to the endeavors and priorities of the DOJ divisions for whom they speak (Cue another shameless plug: for more information on the specific divisions, I encourage you to check out the DOJ website).

While interns are obviously unable to speak on behalf of the DOJ as spokespersons do, interns are responsible for having a general understanding of the cases and topics that members of the press may call about so that the media member’s inquiry will be relayed to the appropriate press officer. For example, if a reporter called about United States v. Microsoft, it would be the interns’ responsibility to know that the case is an antitrust matter that would be handled by the antitrust division spokesperson. Similarly, if a reporter called about U.S. v. Eli Lilly and Company, an intern, depending on the focus of the inquiry, would direct the call to criminal or civil division spokesperson as the case is both criminal and civil in nature.

All things considered, communicating with the news industry in a government press office is often an interesting experience. For one thing, you gain extensive knowledge of the numerous television and radio stations, and print publications that exist throughout the world. Last fall, for example, I could have never named the regional newspapers in New Jersey, Louisiana or Florida, the bureau locations of wire services like the Associated Press, or the online publications like Global Competition Review that focus primarily on antitrust issues. Furthermore, had I not spent part of my day communicating with members of the media, I would have never gained a baseline understanding of the issues and topics that the Department of Justice regularly handles. From fraud and the RICO Act, to the False Claims Act and the Department’s efforts to combat religious discrimination, the plethora of issues and cases that DOJ handles on a daily basis is nothing short of noteworthy.

Finally, as mentioned in my first post, you never know who will be at the end of the line. In some cases, a reporter may be looking for a copy of a complaint, or other corresponding court document that I am typically able to provide. In other instances, the media member may need to call another federal agency, or DOJ component, like the FBI, Bureau of Prisons, or U.S. Attorney’s Office. Ultimately however, regardless of the type of inquiry that OPA may receive, there is always something to learn from one’s interaction with a reporter – be it an issue that DOJ handles, or a lesson in work place professionalism.

In the end, while responding to, and relaying press inquiries in DOJ OPA may not always be glamorous, it does offer interns a valuable opportunity to not only familiarize themselves with the issues and goals of DOJ and the law, but also the chance to enhance one’s communication skills in a work environment. So for all of you future communications directors, press officers, and lawyers consider an internship in a government public affairs office, you never know what you will learn from even the most routine tasks!

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12September2011

Seven Tips for Success!

Posted by Jill Olszewski under: Uncategorized.

I cannot believe that the summer is over and September is here! As the saying goes, “time flies when you are having fun!” My seven months in the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs (DOJ OPA) have been an incredible experience. From responding to reporter’s inquiries and pulling clips, to assisting with interviews and press conferences, the DOJ OPA has not only given me an insider’s perspective in to the many responsibilities of a government communications office but has also cultivated and enhanced my interest in political communications. So, without further ado, I thought I would spend my final blog post highlighting the seven top things I took away from my summer internship:

1.Don’t be afraid or nervous to dive in to the work of the office with which you are interning. OPA is a fast paced government communications office – had I not immersed myself in the priorities and responsibilities of the office, my internship experience would not have been nearly as rewarding.

2.Actively seek out opportunities in your internship that are of interest to you. I, for example, was interested in participating in a “background” conversation between a reporter and a DOJ attorney. Had I not asked the spokesperson in charge of the meeting if I could attend, I would have never understood one of the routine responsibilities of a DOJ press officer.

3.In the words of W&M in Washington Director Adam Anthony, “Pay your dues.” As an intern you should be willing to do anything that is asked of you with a smile on your face. Be it shredding (which is a great stress reliever), copying, or running errands – you should be more than willing to do it. Believe it or not, the fact that you will do anything and everything that is asked of you with a smile on your face will be noticed by your coworkers.

4.Coming from the person who overanalyzes just about everything – don’t sweat the small stuff. It is okay to make mistakes and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We are all human – mistakes happen, especially when you are in an environment that you are not completely familiar with. Treat each and every mistake as a learning opportunity. Ask questions, and move on. No one will think less of you.

5.Do outside research. I know this sounds silly. You are probably thinking, “I intern 40 hours a week, I am in school two-thirds of the year, why would I want to do research when I do not have to?” The answer – why wouldn’t you. Just about every day, there is a topic that is discussed in OPA that I am not familiar with. Taking a few minutes of my time to try and understand the subject in question, only serves to better prepare me for my internship and future endeavors.

6.Put 100 percent into your internship. I think this should go without saying. If you are not willing to go above and beyond the call of duty, why are you there? An internship is an opportunity to learn. If you are not willing to work hard to do so, then you are not only wasting your time but also your coworker’s time.

7.Last, and perhaps most importantly, take the time to form and cultivate relationships with your coworkers. I feel incredibly lucky to have such talented, driven, and welcoming colleagues. The friendships that I have formed over the last several months are relationships that I intend to have for the rest of my life. I encourage you in your future internships, and careers to take the time to chat, grab coffee, lunch, or dinner, or attend that evening happy hour – I promise you that you will not regret it.

So there you go – my advice and lessons learned from seven months at the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs. I will forever remember and continue to learn from my experiences in OPA; it has truly been a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to any student interested in communications, politics, or law.

And on a final note, please do not hesitate to apply for the internship in the future and/or contact me with any questions. I wish you all the best in your future internship endeavors and hope that you all have an incredible semester!

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12September2011

Apply Early and Often

Posted by cmdowns under: Summer 2011; Uncategorized.

Hello! My name is Chris Downs and I am one of the bloggers who will be writing about my summer internship experience this year. First, I want to let everybody know a couple of things about me. I am going into my senior year at William and Mary, majoring in both international relations and marketing. I am involved in a variety of clubs around campus and enjoy playing soccer or hanging out with friends in my spare time. This summer I will be interning for the Department of Defense and am extremely excited for the opportunities that lie ahead.

I want to start off my blog by telling you a bit about the process of how I got my internship and what to expect. One thing you should know before you start the process is that it takes time, and a lot of it. I would say it is equivalent to having an additional 2 or 3 credit class on your schedule. You have to tailor your résumé and cover letter to each different job and fill out the application for that particular organization. Applications can take a while depending on the organization because they may want detailed information beyond your previous work experience and personal information. Also, know what organization you want to work for and start the process early. My internship application was due in October because the DoD needs enough time to process security clearances for new employees. This timeframe is very common for intelligence agencies or organizations related to national security. Other organizations may not have deadlines till later but be sure you don’t miss them! Also, be sure to apply to a lot of different organizations that do things you are interested in getting involved with. You never know who will call you back and you might find that one of your back-up choices does some really cool work. And be sure to stick with the process and don’t get discouraged. I finished my application for my internship in October and then filled out almost 20 more before I heard back in late spring that I had gotten the job.

The Career Center is a good resource to help review your résumé and discuss possible opportunities. If you want to work for the government or for a company that has a large presence in DC then I would reach out to the William and Mary Washington Office which is always happy to help students out. And don’t forget to reach out to friends or family if they work in a field you are interested in, they can be your best resource. Internships are a great learning experience and you will come out better prepared for the real world with insights that you cannot get from a textbook.

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12September2011

My Life as an Intern

Posted by cmdowns under: Summer 2011.

My internship is off to a great start and I am really enjoying the team I have been assigned to work with. Unfortunately, due to the nature of my work I can’t get into too many specifics since there are certain security rules I must adhere to but I will tell you what I can and give you some of my insights. I will say that William and Mary has prepared me extremely well for my internship and put me in a position where I can truly contribute to my organization.

The Department of Defense, for obvious reasons, puts a great emphasis on helping keep our troops safe and protecting the nation and I really feel like there is a common sense of purpose among the people who work here. Everyone strongly believes that our goal is to serve the people of the United States and provide for the good of our fellow citizens.

Two of the projects I am working on are fairly interesting and have me doing the same sort of work other employees are doing. Some of it is doing research or writing reports while at other times I sit in on team meetings and discuss how to move forward on a particular project. I also get to help conduct interviews of subject matter experts to help us learn more about the issues we are tackling. The third project I am working on is a bit more boring and basically involves a lot of time in excel but I know that I will be making things a lot easier for my fellow employees when I leave.

I’m learning a lot and there are so many opportunities for professional development. There are classes I can take online or events that I can attend to learn about a variety of subjects. Even outside of my internship there are tons of events in DC that are both educational and enjoyable. If you ever intern in DC be sure to take advantage of everything that the city has to offer, you want to make the most of your summer!

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12September2011

Parting Words

Posted by cmdowns under: Summer 2011.

Well, my internship has been humming along and I am extremely pleased at the way things have turned out. I have friends who have spent their internships copying papers while I have gotten to do some really interesting stuff (thanks to my great supervisor!). Living with other William and Mary students (through the College’s DC housing) has allowed me to make some great friends that I probably would never have met if we weren’t in the same summer program. I have gotten to read things that most people will never read, go places that most people will never go and meet people that you usually only see on TV. The summer internship experience has been a fantastic way to complement my academic course load and taught me a lot.

There are two things I would like to pass on as I wrap up my summer. First, the Summer Security Institute that I am a fellow in has been fantastic! I encourage anyone interested in national security to apply to the program. The College’s Washington Office does a great job setting up events and tours and will also help out with the internship search by passing along special opportunities if you are accepted in the program.

Second, be sure to network during your internship. I know you’ve probably heard this a thousand times but it bears repeating. I’ve always disliked the idea of networking because it seems forced and awkward but, in reality, networking can be just grabbing lunch with some other interns. They may not necessarily help your chances of getting a job but they are still a valuable contact. It’s all about building relationships that are both professional and personal. Even if you are not trying to get a job in the particular field it helps to know a variety of people because they help expand your base of knowledge and improve yourself. Before I left my internship everyone from my team was giving me their business card and telling me to keep in touch because we had become friends, not just coworkers. Even if I were to never go back to work there (although I probably will go back) I know there are people I can reach out to for a quick lunch if I move there after graduation.

In fact, if you ever need help in the internship search feel free to reach out to me. I am always glad to help people if I can. I’ve truly enjoyed my internship and the people I’ve met along the way. Internships are some of the best ways to spend a summer and if you have the chance I would recommend taking it, you may not get that opportunity again!

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1September2011

A New Beginning

Posted by rebrooks under: Summer 2011.

Hello, my name is Rachel Brooks. I am a sophomore at the College and a native of Virginia Beach, VA. I wanted to work for a politician this summer, but I did not want to travel too far away from home for monetary reasons. This summer, I interned at the district office of a State Senator, which was relatively close to my house and a fantastic experience.

I originally heard about the opportunity through one of my mom’s good friends who is active in local politics and women’s clubs, and I decided to apply. I filled out the application and included my resume. The legislative aide contacted me and scheduled a phone interview during finals weeks. Needless to say, the combination of exams and an interview in the same week was rather stressful. After the interview, I sent a follow-up thank you email and continued to communicate with the legislative aide.

When I received word that I got the internship and earned a scholarship from William and Mary, I was elated. While this was clearly a wonderful opportunity, I was a little worried about spending so much time working on an unpaid endeavor, so the scholarship definitely helped put me at ease.

There were only two interns for the summer, and both of us go to William and Mary. Additionally, the legislative aide who oversaw us attended William and Mary. Also, some people who have come to speak with the campaign manager or set up appointments have been W&M graduates. I have been able to make a number of connections and gain insight into government.

I am so appreciative for my internship and for the financial support from William and Mary. The generous donors made it possible for me to gain valuable experience in politics this summer.

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1September2011

Excellent Experience

Posted by rebrooks under: Summer 2011.

Hi there,

My internship with a State Senator helped me understand the integral undertakings of a district office and how many tasks must be completed on a daily basis. Since there are only two interns, I am constantly learning new skills or doing a wide array of assignments.

I used campaign software to do research on issues and politicians, search various databases, create spreadsheets, and organize information. I have written and mailed dozens of condolence letters to families who recently lost loved ones. It seems rather impersonal writing countless letters of sympathy, but some of the people who received condolence letters sent thank you notes to express their appreciation.

Throughout the summer, I contacted countless people through email, phone, letters, and face-to-face conversations. I scheduled appointments and created agendas on a regular basis in the office. I developed better analytical and research skills by working with specialized software programs and managing fundraising efforts. This opportunity challenged me to take on various roles and adapt to countless situations. I better understand the fundamentals of fundraising and networking.

One of my favorite opportunities this summer was working with community partners to organize events. I was able to help set up and attend a fundraising event for a presidential candidate. I checked in guests, distributed papers, and completed miscellaneous tasks. I am so thankful for opportunities like this. I gained valuable experience working on assorted aspects of a political campaign.

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1September2011

Summer Success

Posted by rebrooks under: Summer 2011.

Hey there,

It goes without saying that my summer internship was incredible. In addition to learning new skills, I met bright people and networked with various groups. I had a productive summer and gained hands-on experience.

I was able to have a delightful lunch with the State Senator and the other intern. It was a great opportunity to offer and receive direct feedback about the internship overall. He seemed genuinely interested in our suggestions and political discourse. I am glad that I was able to find a local internship that aligns with my academic interests.

I enjoyed participating in political projects and contacting community partners for constructive goals, so working on the campaign throughout the summer gave me beneficial knowledge as an intern. I have worked on campaigns before, but this was a greater time commitment than my past experiences with politicians, so I developed a wider array of skills.

I am grateful to work in the office and participate in fundraising and promotional events. I plan to go into government-related fields, so this was a fitting opportunity for summer. Although my exact career plans are rather tentative as of now, this experience made a positive impact on my future.

The experience I gained this summer will be applicable to my classes at William and Mary this semester, and I look forward to the future.

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25August2011

Conference Success

Posted by tedeatley18 under: Summer 2011.

Hi all,

I wanted to update everyone on how the launch of Diabetes Local went earlier this month. Our website was showcased at a health conference by the publisher herself, Kathy Gold. It was very well received, and proved to be a great resource for non-computer savvy individuals.

On another note, I also wanted to give some updates on the work I was and still am collecting on the state of Tennessee. I was primarily collecting data on assisted living options, community help groups, and medical aid and assistance programs, prior to returning to school. I  had been fixing a spreadsheet that was given to me from the Wellmont health care system in Tennessee. However, I found my research was more effective and thorough when I started from scratch (much to my surprise). I had originally thought that using a base template with reference points would help, but I found that it had misconstrued information and lacked depth in every category.

After the conference our research team decided to regroup. I am working on (from scratch):

> Parks and Recreation (particularly the local parks, with all of the national parks in the area)

> Health clubs and gyms

> Pharmacies and local chain pharmacies, grocery stores, etc.

> Still in Tennessee

The website is off to a great start, but there is plenty of work to fill in the holes!

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Summer Interns

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