From the Classroom to the Real World
As I head into my third week at NARA, this seems like good time to share a few moments in which my education and experiences in the MPA program helped prepare me for actual on-the-job situations. It’s exciting to see what I’ve learned in class emerge in my internship as it affirms the coursework of the program is relevant and useful to public sector workers.
1. Making a good first impression (a.k.a. the importance of professional attire): Those who know me also know I have a tendency to default to casual wear whenever possible. In spite of this habit, and with the gentle prodding from professors and program administrators, I do know when and where to look my professional best, such as the first day of work. I knew going in to this internship the culture of NARA is less formal than many other federal agencies, but first impressions are important. Thus, on my first day of work I dressed in my professional best. You can imagine my surprise when I met another intern who showed up to work that day wearing a backless jumpsuit.
Yes, a backless jumpsuit.
I’m pretty convinced prior MPA-me would never think a backless jumpsuit was acceptable work attire. However, as I shuffled around the office that day, meeting new people every five minutes, I said a silent thanks to the MPA program for taking the time to drive home the importance of making a good first impression and dressing like a professional.
2. Possessing an awareness/understanding of legal terminology (a.k.a. Thank you Law for Public Administration): My first official act as an intern was to take part in an interoffice meeting between my office, (the Social Media Office) and the General Counsel Office. Not only was I able to follow along with the legal jargon and discussion among the lawyers, but I also earned major intern points by knowing what the Lemon Test was and being able to briefly sum it up for my boss. As a result of this exchange, I was invited to sit in on policy discussions at the General Counsel Office so I could see the legal process firsthand.
Another time in which I was quite thankful for the Law class came during a discussion with my boss on the ethical concerns of having lunch with a representative of the ICN software vendor. We talked about this issue in class multiple times, but to see it emerge in a real conversation was, forgive me for being a nerd, extremely exciting.
Needless to say, the appropriate ethical and legal course of action was taken. The NARA Social Media office has no intention of being the next GSA….