A Summer at the EEOC

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Genesis Nunez, COL

My summer got off to a less than stellar start. Our drive down to Washington, DC from New York ended up taking hours longer than expected and since my housing plans had fallen through a week before, I had no idea where I would be. I thought that if this was any indication as to how the summer was going to go, I was in trouble. Luckily, that was not the case.

This summer, I spent my time interning at the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. As a sociology major interested the intersection of law and discrimination, having the chance to intern at a federal agency dedicated to eradicating one of the most salient forms of discrimination was everything I could ask for in an internship. While at the EEOC, I got to work on various projects that had important and direct impacts on the agency. My first assignment was to compile a detailed list of directed investigations from the EEOC’s offices across the country as part of a study being conducted on why the Commission brings about such investigations. Other projects I worked on during my time there included conducting an extensive review of Worksharing agreements from offices across the country, editing the material that was going to be used at the annual national EEOC Investigator training session, and reading about joint cases between the EEOC and the Department of Justice. The highlight of my internship, however, was getting the chance to sit in on Commission meetings and listening to experts and victims testify on a range of employment issues from sexual harassment to retaliation. It was here where that I got the chance to see how it is the Commission interacts with the public to expand its knowledge on employment issues and really makes an effort to learn from those they serve. All in all, this past summer was the most meaningful learning experience I have had outside the classroom.

I would not do my summer justice, however, if I did not talk about the amazing experience that was living in a new city. I have been wanting to intern in DC for as long as I can remember and so I made sure to take in as much of the city as I could while I was there. My weekends usually consisted of visiting monuments, Smithsonian Museums, bakeries, and waterfronts. I went on a paddleboat in the tidal basin, watched fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool, and rode a bike around the city, all things which I had never done before. It was truly an amazing city.

My summer was an incredible learning opportunity, both intellectually and personally. I am incredibly grateful for all the great people I had the chance to meet and have rich conversations with. Thank you to Career Services for helping make this experience possible.

Governor’s Internship at the Commission of Asian American Affairs

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Naimah Hares, COL ’16

This summer I received the rare opportunity to intern under Tiffany Lawson, the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission of Asian American Affairs. After spending a few months reaching out to Mrs. Lawson and telling her about my background as a Penn student interested in studying law, we agreed to design an internship that would help enrich my learning experience about the state government.

Recently Governor Tom Wolf was elected, and his three main goals for his term are “Government that Works, Schools that Teach, and Jobs that Pay”. Along with these missions, the Commission functions as an advocacy group for all Asian communities in the state of Pennsylvania. In order to assist with this function, I began to create an updated service directory of all organizations that assisted Asian communities as a resource to the public. The project in itself was intriguing as I learned a lot about grassroots organizations that I did not even know; they provided helpful tools such as classes to learn English and assistance for refugees. Growing up in an immigrant family, I was again reminded of the hardships that many foreigners faced when moving to the United States, and I was grateful that these organizations assisted many members of Asian communities adjust to the American Culture.

When I was not working on the directory, I shadowed Mrs. Lawson as she attended numerous meetings and events. I was amazed at how busy one person could be, as she drove from Harrisburg to Philadelphia twice a week (I interned only in Philadelphia) and attended back-to-back meetings. As I quietly observed Mrs. Lawsons interactions with leaders of communities, businesses, and government staff, I learned a lot about the content of the meetings in terms of rising issues in certain communities and why foreign businesses would be interested in investing in parts of Philadelphia. But the most important skills I learned were about simple communication.

Before, I never had experience with networking and talking to people I knew nothing about, but Mrs. Lawson made an art out of it. Always with a big smile on her face, I was astonished at how much energy she had not only in greeting people, but also remembering very specific details about every person and making a conversation out of it. She coached me in being able to talk to other people and not feeling intimidated, and event took me to networking events to practice meeting people and following up with them. But now I feel very comfortable walking up to someone I have never met, having a casual conversation, and remembering that person later.

Thanks to the summer granted through Career Services, I have gathered a priceless experience in a number of areas. Without Mrs. Lawson, I would have never learned that there were amazing communities that existed such as the Bhutanese population in South Philadelphia, and the amount of effort each cultural community organization has put into investing in their community and helping especially immigrants to achieve a better standard of living. Having grown up in an immigrant community myself in West Philadelphia, I truly appreciate the existence of these community associations and organizations and think that their work goes a long way in helping immigrants and their children born in the United States achieve social mobility. In addition, my internship has also made known to me various social issues that I never considered. For example, in 2010 there was an issue regarding deportation among the Cambodian community in Philadelphia, which has influenced a national grassroots organization known as the 1Love Movement to form to assist communities in gaining autonomy.

My most recent and memorable experience at the internship has been attending my first fundraising event in Chinatown. Held at Ocean City Restaurant, the event was held for the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, one of the most impressive Asian American Film festivals held on the East Coast. It was an amazing event that raised awareness of the films that would be screened for the festival. I was lucky enough to meet City Councilman and Minority Whip David Oh, as well as a number of important leaders, and saw Mrs. Lawson deliver Governor Wolf’s greeting for the fundraising event. Impressed by the organization of the event (as well as having delicious Chinese food and trying jellyfish for the first time), the most important thing I gathered from the event was how most of the important figures I had met from various events in one room. It showed me the connections various Asian communities, organizations, municipal and state representatives had with each other.

My summer internship, while very enriching and fun, was also very short. However, I am happy to say that Mrs. Lawson has provided the wonderful opportunity to continue interning with her. I am grateful to her for putting in the time and effort to teach me important social skills, meet admirable and influential leaders, and inspire me to do what I can to assist my local Asian community, the Bangladeshi Community of Pennsylvania. I look forward to finishing the service directory, as well as have more experiences to learn about other cultural communities and learn from Mrs. Lawson herself about working for the state.

Interning at Department of State

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Krishnan Sethmuadhavan, COL ’16

Krishnan Sethumadhavan (1)This summer, I had the privilege of working at the Department of State’s Economics and Business Bureau (EB), specifically in the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy. For somebody who has always had an interest in foreign policy, getting this internship was truly a dream come true. The ability to see American foreign policy being created first-hand was something that I only had dreamed of and the fact that I would have the ability (no matter how small) to shape it myself was really icing on top of the cake. At the University of Pennsylvania, I am studying economics in the College and Public Policy in Wharton and because the Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy really lies at the intersection of foreign and economic policy, it furthered my understanding of what I was learning in classes in a practical sense.

The Office of Economic Policy Analysis and Public Diplomacy (EPPD) works on a number of highly interesting issues, all of which I had the opportunity to take part in through my internship. The EPPD creates policy analysis for decision-makers and organizes seminars with outside experts to inform rapidly changing policy processes. EPPD also leads the US relationship with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on vital international economic issues and manages the EB Advisor Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP). Due to the diversity of the topics taken on, my role as an intern was part policy analysis, part paper-writer, and part event planner. Specifically, I worked on helping to create the Economics and Business Bureau’s strategic planning document over the course of the next three years. This document lays out the objectives of the Bureau over the near future and moreover, the indicators that will show success or failure of these objectives.

Two things really struck me about this planning document. The first was the sheer breadth that the document covered – nearly every region of the world and as many policy topics you could think of were part and parcel of EB’s plan for American foreign policy. This was a direct outgrowth of the fact that during John Kerry’s tenure as Secretary of State, he made the bold claim that “Foreign policy is economic policy” and that economic policy, short of war, is the way in which the United States will make its mark on the world. The second thing that surprised me was the quantitative nature of the metrics being utilized in the planning document and the number of indicators that existed. In deciding foreign policy, the State Department has begun moving away from seemingly wishy-washy ideas of success to a more measured and measurable methodology. This approach has its benefits and its costs, but on the whole, it appeared to be a commendable attempt at ensuring accountability in government.

Another major issue that I worked on during my time at EPPD was working with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although I had been aware of the OECD prior to this internship due to their ubiquity as a statistics database on all things in the global economy, I was not aware of the wider role that they play and their attempts to escape the image that they hold as a “rich man’s club.” These efforts include doing things like having Latin American countries accede to the OECD and utilizing a “key partners” framework to engage emerging economies like those of Brazil, India, China, Indonesia, and South Africa. Another key issue in which I was not aware of the OECD’s importance was in tax reform and the issue of Base Erosion and Profit Sharing (BEPS) and the tax planning strategies of multinational corporations. Through my work at EPPD, I got a chance firsthand to see the power the OECD has in determining international tax policy and how jealously it guards it. For example, at the Addis Ababa conference on financing international development, developed nations (like those of the OECD) fought back an attempt by developing countries to create an international tax agency that would be under the United Nations and would remove the OECD’s role in international tax reform.

The amazing nature of my internship was further supplemented by the fact that Washington D.C. is such an amazing city. I had the opportunity to explore the many cultural and wonderful touristy sights that Washington has to offer. During my 10 weeks there, I saw everything from an outdoor French cultural festival to dancing construction cranes (courtesy of Capital Fringe) to the world’s largest Paella Festival! In addition, I got to take a picture with Secretary Kerry along with other State Department Interns and made a bunch of friends both from Penn and outside of it. I wouldn’t trade this summer for anything else in the world and want to thank both the mentors I met and Career Services for making this possible. I hopefully will return to DC in the near future as a Foreign Service Officer, something that my time in DC has confirmed will be my career in the future.


The Ups and Downs of a D.C. Internship

This is the next in a series of posts by recipients of the Career Services Summer Funding grant.  We’ve asked funding recipients to reflect on their summer experiences and talk about the industries in which they’ve been spending the summer.  You can read the entire series here.

This entry is by Zahra Mion, COL ’16

minonMy summer internship experience has definitely been a rollercoaster ride. Though I knew I wanted to work in politics, it had taken me much longer than expected to reconcile myself to the idea. All my closest friends were spending the summer in New York; I was  living more than two hour train ride away from my family and hometown friends; and I would be living by myself in a city I had only visited and knew no one in. But at the same time, I had gotten my dream internship — working for the Commission on Civil Rights. I always knew that I wanted to somehow combine my passion for civil rights, politics, the law and social change but never really wanted to be a politician, considered law school but was terrified by the idea and could not envision working on less than 30,000$ a year for a non-profit type organization. So the Commission seemed perfect to me.

Of course I knew I wouldn’t be writing reports for Congress or the President as an intern, but even with that understanding my experience was not at all what I was expecting. To put it simply, it was a lot like learning how sausage is made. I never truly understood just how huge our government is, and how much red tape there is until I got my first assignment. It seemed pretty straight forward: research each state’s Equal Employment Policy, paying specific attention for mention of transgender or gender identity language. I expected all the states to have similar policies, mostly because when I think of Equal Employment one specific definition comes to mind. However, after digging and digging to even find the actual policy of states, the range of language was unbelievable— there were some states that didn’t publish their policy, others that only mentioned equal employment with consideration to race, class and gender, and still others that included things like genetic history.

Eventually, my tasks got a little more substantive and I was assigned to analyze the federal governments compliance with the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) for an upcoming report on immigrant detention facilities. Again, I had a bit of an eye-opening experience. When I asked my supervisor what sources I should be relying on, I was told to use anything. Now, perhaps it was me being naive about how DC runs but I was shocked. I hardly use EBSCO in my research papers (I’m much more of a JSTOR person), so having free range for a government mandated assignment seemed wrong to me. When I found myself on a white supremacist site, I obviously used my common sense and did not quote the website, but for some reason the casualness of the task shocked me. One of the things I liked most about my internship was how much I learned through my research. Sure, every now and then I would find myself on a white supremacist site or somehow reading about how the illuminati was really running the government, but for the most part I was reading reports from the ACLU, DOJ, MALDEF, HRC and other civil rights groups. Not only was I able to greatly increase my knowledge of immigration issues, but I also found a lot of organizations that I would love to work for in the future.

On more than one occasion, my intern friends and I went to the Hill to watch Senate hearings (one of the many perks of living in DC). Again, I experienced the paradox of Washington—somehow very casual and very serious at the same time. I was sitting behind Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, her body guards were seated on one side of me and I could see the CSPAN camera panning to the area I was in. I finally felt like I was in Washington, DC. And then a senator’s phone went off. Not only did the phone go off, but it was answered! To top it all off, after that interruption of casualty, the room was cleared due to a bomb threat.

One of the most exciting times of my internship was when I got to sit in on a Commission briefing on minorities in higher education. The hearing was far from boring, especially since such a contentious issue was under discussion. It was exiting to just be a part of the briefing. One of the Commissioners even asked the interns if we had any questions we wanted to ask. I submitted a few, but not surprisingly none of them made it. I preferred the Commission hearing to the Senate hearing, mostly because I think there was less politics involved. It seemed like the Commissioners, regardless of their own political affiliation, were looking for tangible solutions to the problems at hand, while at the Senate hearing it seemed liked everyone was concerned with confirming that their political ideologies were being implemented.

Overall, I definitely enjoyed my summer internship. I met amazing people who were equally as politically and socially active as I was. I was reassured in my ultimate career path, and I’m certain that I’ll be able to find a place in Washington where it feels like I’m doing substantive work while also making a difference.

The (Adaptable, Resourceful, Multitalented) Versatile PhD

Graduate students and postdocs may be aware of Career Services’ many resources on academic careers and the academic job search.  But are you also familiar with the resources we have for PhDs/ABDs who are considering a career beyond academia? The Versatile PhD is one of the valuable tools Career Services provides to help you in your decision making and your job hunting.

The Versatile PhD is a web-based resource that you can use anytime, from any computer.  It includes:

  • A thriving, supportive web-based community where you can participate in discussions, network with real “Versatile PhDs” (humanists, social scientists and STEM trained individuals working outside the academy) or, if you prefer, just read and learn.
  • An online collection of compelling first-person narratives written by Versatile PhDs who describe how they established their post-academic careers and give their best advice for you.
  • An associated LinkedIn group where you can begin to build an online presence and network with Versatile PhDs in a wide variety of fields.
  • Free online “Career Panel” discussions where Versatile PhDs working in a given field share their specific professional experiences in that field and answer questions from members. Online panels in 2012 included Careers in Market Research, Careers in Corporate and Institutional Research and Careers in Program Evaluation.  Panels from prior years are archived on the site.

Coming up on November 12-16, 2012:  Entrepreneurship for STEM PhDs featuring STEM PhDs currently running businesses they started from the ground up, or working in small start-ups.  The panel is presented in an asynchronous format; participate anytime during the week.

University of Pennsylvania graduate students and postdocs have access to all the content areas on the website, including the upcoming panel  – go to the Career Services Reference Library (on the left side of Career Services homepage) and click on Online Subscriptions.  You will be asked to provide your PennKey and password to access The Versatile PhD.