Hello everyone! I am Aaron Brown, a MPA Candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and you have stumbled upon the inaugural week of my Professional Work Experience (PWE) blog series. Each Monday of Summer ’18, I’m going to supply the good, the notable, and the funny of my new life as an intern in Wake County’s Budget and Management Services Department. I plan to keep posts light-hearted, upbeat, and funny enough to keep everyone who follows eager to reach each post.
This past week (May 14-19) was Week #1 for me and Week #49 for everyone else that works in Wake County’s Budget and Management Services. For those unfamiliar with budget process for local governments here in North Carolina here is a link to an in-depth article from the School Government. The “too long; didn’t read” version is: this is the most hectic part of the budget process and it made for a WILD week.
My very first day, May 14th, was the highlight of my week. I walked-in preposterously nervous. In my defense, the Wake County Justice Center (the home of Wake’s Budget Management Services) can be overpowering upon first introduction. It is a modern, very spacious building that seemingly has a special gravity of its own. The Justice Center has granite walls and columns at seemingly every turn; the entrance has Section 2 of the North Carolina Constitution in huge gold-lettering as soon as you walk-in, serving as an unmissable and unmistakable reminder of who we work for and why we are here. Walking in on my first day was a surreal in a way that can only come from public service. I had that same feeling the following 4 days as well.
I had barely walked into Budget and Management Services’ fourth floor suite before I found out what we had in store that day: a budget work session with Board of Commissioners and I was taking notes for the department. I took hilariously mediocre notes. These work sessions go for hours (4.5 hours in this case to be exact) and I had never been to one as civilian, let alone as someone who is actually working on the budget. I didn’t know names, I didn’t know topics, and I didn’t know the budget. It was overwhelming, and I loved every minute of being “thrown into the fire”.
I am joining this team in the chaotic final stretch of the budget cycle, and that was very intentional. Director Michelle Venditto and Assistant Director Heather Drennan throw a lot at me this week, learning in-house systems, the short-hand verbiage, and assimilating in to the department’s culture, and they did so out of necessity. Week 1 was a busy, fast paced, flurry of questions for me/ Now I think Week 2 is teed up to be a homer.