This past summer I was an intern for the Health Care team of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in Washington DC. Throughout the 10 weeks of my internship, I was exposed to a multitude of health care engagements and their different stages of completion. My primary engagement for the summer looked at Substance Use Disorder (SUD) services offered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA); specifically, we researched different initiatives VA has undertaken in the last few years to improve its SUD services and the subsequent challenges that accompany such new initiatives given the growing population of OEF/OIF veterans. One of the best parts of my internship was the fact that its timing corresponded to the early stages of the engagement. Because the project was in its early stages, I was able to help define the scope and methodology of the project and pinpoint our objectives.
My internship at GAO met and surpassed the expectations I initially envisioned for the summer. Not only did my work incorporate the skills I learned during my first year in the Thomas Jefferson Program in Public Policy, but the fact that GAO treats its interns as it would any of its full-time analysts painted a realistic picture for how I will utilize my public policy degree upon graduation. Thinking critically; collaborating with team members; presenting information orally and in writing; coordinating with the client and achieving results; each of these are critical skills for a successful policy analyst, and in working at GAO I was able to expand these skills and develop new ones. Having worked in such a stimulating and challenging environment this summer, I have a much greater confidence in my analytical skills as I begin my second year in the Thomas Jefferson Program and look ahead to the next chapter of my life.