For my first blog post I would like to talk about the personal contributions I have made in my first week and a half-ish at my internship site at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. The two ways I have contributed that I would like to discuss involve those working more on projects or parts of projects that mostly take place in a more passive environment and those that involve participating and facilitating events with panels and speakers that take place in a more active environment.
In terms of the more passive projects and contributions, they have mostly involved working with Microsoft Excel in data collection and aggregation from various governmental websites including the United States Treasury, the United Nations, and the European Union. While certainly not the most intellectually stimulating work, my supervisor(s) have done an excellent job of keeping me in the loop on how what I am working on will directly be used to affect a certain policy or aid a certain organization in one of their wider goals. Although both of them were out of town for most of the last week, they were active on email and were able to give me feedback and direction at pretty regular intervals as I worked, ensuring that the product I was producing would be the most impactful it could be. While I am not done with most of those projects and the wider tasks that they are a part of have certainly not been completed yet, I am confident and comfortable that what I am doing is worthwhile and it will have an impact on the final product.
For the more active tasks, my contributions typically involve helping prepare for speakers and events and then attending those events and taking notes on things that may be pertinent to the work of more senior FDD staffers that could not attend. When compared to the passive projects, the value that my effort creates is immediately more visible as senior researchers and associates are relying on me to provide them with high quality notes and recollections of meetings in a timely manner, in many cases so they can add finishing touches to white papers that they would like to publish in the coming days or hours. Additionally, attending these events gives me the opportunity to hear from and meet interesting people from across the governmental spectrum that I just would not have the opportunity to meet in my more passive work, making it much more enjoyable for me.