From the Classroom to the Real World
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….