The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

2015 First-Year Fellow: Madison DeRose '18

Article Type 

The Office of Policy and Analysis (OP&A), where I worked as a First-Year Fellow this summer, is an organization within the Smithsonian Institution that conducts studies across and within the different sects of the Smithsonian, including the 19 museums and the National Zoo. OP&A evaluates museum programs, exhibits, and visitor experience. OP&A performs these studies through both qualitative and quantitative methods and then proceeds to analyze results. Formal reports of these results often include suggested improvements for the program or exhibit.

Madison DeRose '18 at her desk at the OP &A. 

Of the many experiences I had during the internship, the most rewarding was a project that I did on my own. I was given an unorganized dataset to organize and performed a quantitative analysis using SPSS. I then composed a report of the results that would be sent to the program coordinators at National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). The data provided the results of a pre-program survey for a program at NMNH for high school students called the Youth Engagement through Science Program (YES!). When I first arrived at OP&A I was not familiar with the computer program SPSS at all, as I had only used STATA in the past. I studied to teach myself how to work the program during the first few days of my fellowship.

I worked hard for several days solely on analyzing the dataset, running frequencies, crosstabs, correlations, and different tests for significance. Once I had completed the analysis, I began to prepare my report. In preparing my report, I also had no idea where to begin because I had never written up a report of this type before. I decided to read through several examples of past reports and once I had done so, I compiled my results into a comprehensible report. While I completed several similar projects to this one throughout the summer, this was the most rewarding part of my fellowship experience because it was the first project that I completed start to finish entirely on my own. It felt very good to hand in an official Smithsonian document with my name at the top and I am very proud of this work.

-Written by Madison DeRose '18

This series introduces the 2015 First-Year Fellows. Each fellow reflects on his or her experience in Washington DC as a First-Year Fellow working with a mentor in public policy. 

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences