from NEWSLINK, Vol. 7, No. 4, Summer 2003

Drawing up public opinion surveys, placing telephone calls to government officials, pulling the latest charitable statistics down from the web, crunching the latest property tax data in their spreadsheets and running off to the next meeting.

These are just a few of the tasks that BHI’s interns have been undertaking all summer. Now in its third year, the BHI Summer Internship Program gives students and graduates a first-hand look into the machinery of a think tank while offering valuable work experience.

“Our interns spend very little of their time on clerical work. Most of their time is spent assisting staff economists with their research,” says Rebecca Moryl, Director of Operations, who manages the intern program.

“Two minutes into my first day at work, I realized that my intern experience with the Beacon Hill Institute would extend well beyond my expectations,” says Rebecca Gordon, a graduate of Cornell University (BS Economics 2003). “I entered a meeting with six of my co-workers who were excitedly talking about an upcoming project. Everyone, intern or economist, had the chance to contribute their opinion, and to analyze the nature of the project.”

Emily Bovaird, a Princeton, Massachusetts native and rising senior at George Washington University in Washington, DC agreed, saying, “This internship has given me the feeling that the work that I was doing was significant.”

Pam Rosen, who recently received her Master’s degree in Economics from Boston University, compared her classroom instruction with the real world practice of economic research. “Experiencing the application of economic analysis in public policy is quite different from what I learned in the classroom and I enjoyed seeing how many details are pursued,” she said.
Establishing a friendly environment where interns can contribute is critical to the success of the program. The program helps students develop critical workplace skills including communication, interpersonal and computer skills.
"I think what made the greatest impression on me was the level of help from the staff. It was important to the staff that I was learning new skills," said Rosen, a California native. "This internship helped me realize how one can affect change with public policy.”

Amina Shabani, an economics major from Suffolk University agrees. “I was very nervous at the beginning and I wanted to make a good impression since I had little experience in public policy analysis,” she notes. “Everyone was very helpful and expected me to give my best. That was very encouraging since I could feel that my ideas were being heard and I was contributing to the project.”

A native of Burundi, Shabani worked with several members of a group from Ghana who attended a seminar in early June organized by BHI Senior Economist Jonathan Haughton. The group learned to generate the kind of competitiveness indicators that could guide public officials as they pursue economic development.

“I loved working on the Ghana project,” she says. “I could relate to it and my research on upgrading housing for the poor and waste management issues made me realize how failed policies affected society.”

Doug Giuffre, a Masters in Economic Policy candidate at Suffolk University summed up the comments of all this summer’s interns. Of his BHI internship Giuffre said, “I was required to take the initiative and accomplish tasks, while applying the skills I had learned in the classroom. I gained confidence that I can perform up to, and even surpass, expectations in my career. I would highly recommend a Beacon Hill Institute internship to any student looking to gain 'real world' experience.”

NewsLink is the quarterly newsletter of the Beacon Hill Institute for Public Policy Research at Suffolk University. 1996-2003. All rights reserved.

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