Saturday, September 26, 2009

So this week I was granted the task of doing massive amounts of research...granted most of it was finding the addresses and e-mails of people like Hans Binnendijk (whose name is pronounced Ben-in-dike, which I learned from an embarrassing phone call to his center--note to self and anyone who might be reading this, always find out pronunciations of names before calling) and Julian Lindley-French, but most of these experiences actually have refined my professional phone calling skills. This research also proved a lot to my boss-- most of the research he asked me to do I had done in five minutes, much quicker than he even said it would've taken him....score 1 for the intern! I am actually pretty shocked at the amount of information I retained after doing so much reading this week...I guess that's what happens when you read about topics that are actually interesting to you.

Sometimes research isn't research at is research that will help you create your own research. This was my day on Thursday when I went through all 28 NATO countries in the CIA World Factbook to find out each one's individual GDP and next week I will go to all their aid websites to find out how much money each country gives in aid to Afghanistan each year, and then I will use alllll of that data to figure out percentage GDP of aid given to Afghanistan. That is what we need for a publication we are putting out.

I also cost my NGO over $200 this week when I found this really good publication called The Military Balance from the International Institute for Strategic Studies about the military capabilites of over 170 countries...I was told it was a pretty damn good buy and I earned my letter of recommendation for finding that jewel. =)

On Thursday, the Center organized a discussion group with the interns and some of the younger workers to talk about our anual Fellowship Conference in November and what our president would talk about. He wanted some guidance on how a generation much younger than him would percieve his message about social and personal responisbility...we offered many suggestions and ended up with an excellent round table discussion on topics that our plaguing our generation such as health care and environmental concerns. I was able to engage with people who are several years older than me (although still included in my generation) and I was pretty proud of how I handled my arguments and presented opinions and suggestions.

Another thing I learned on Thursday was that is probably one of the worst ideas to leave work at 5:15....the Metro is hell. I must have sat at Farragut North for 20 minutes waiting for a train that had a few inches of room to spare in the cars. Never again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Learning the Lay of the Land

August 27, 2009-- The first and youngest to start. At a time when I am the one starting to feel the oldest, I am in a sea of people older, once again. Making the transition from school to office setting at first sent a shock to my system, although I had been forewarned. During the interview process I had reminded myself that accepting a position like this would mean not being able to roll out of bed and off to class. I was to become a commuter-- wearing business attire, SmartTrip card in one hand and New York Times in the other. It was different, but I was excited to start "work" and be able to say things like "Oh, I can't...I have to go to work" or "At work today...". It became a game, and I loved it and I realized that this internship wasn't me giving up anything at all. After several days, I knew that I loved this sort of work. I quickly became acclimated to the work and research I was doing and the people I was working with and I have been having a great time.

*A note on my job--I am the intern to the NATO reform project the NGO is working on. We are working to compose a team of experts to travel to Europe with the project heads to convince European governments to provide more military support in Afghanistan. The NGO was awarded a grant to fund this project.

This week was a completely different experience. Our Congressional Correspondent invited me to attend the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on Afghanistan and I was ecstatic! I had never attended any sort of Congressional Hearing before and I turned into a giddy school girl, planning my outfit and my route to the Hill. It was an amazing day. After taking notes for 2 1/2 hours at the hearing, we left the Hill and I was asked to write a memo on the hearing to be sent out to the entire staff, and my boss loved it and congradulated me several times on a job well done.
After being asked to attend this I completely disregarded the stereotype of the intern-- at my small NGO, interns were not people who made photocopies or continuously ran errands. We did important research, wrote important notes, attended meetings, held meaningful conversations and were people who our bosses really wouldn't be able to get much done with without our help, and the best part was, none of my bosses took me for granted. Each one appreciated everything I contributed, whether it was a helpful reminder, a written memo, or some help with research. They were truly appreciative of the work I was doing, and this has already made my experience as an intern extremely rewarding.