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

NOTES FROM THE FIELD AVI DIXIT '23

Avi Dixit

Avi Dixit '23 interning at A Step Ahead Foundation during the 2020 summer term.

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This past summer, I interned at A Step Ahead Foundation which is a Memphis based nonprofit dedicated to helping women gain access to reliable birth control. Through working on public policy, the foundation hopes to provide long acting, reversible contraception to all Tennessee women. Many areas in Memphis and across the state of Tennessee are severely impoverished. Women too often have an unplanned pregnancy at an early age. Foundation education and funding enables women of all backgrounds to avoid these pregnancies. With no resources, they are left solely to care for a child and often must drop out of school to meet that need. A Step Ahead Foundation hopes to help end this cycle. Averting unplanned pregnancies allows for more career opportunities, lower infant mortality, and less financial burden.

The main project I was hired for was to create a database solution for the foundation and all its partners across Tennessee. When applying to grants, the six different branches had to compile all their data into one application. This application showed growth over time and overall outreach. I created the database that allowed them to have a constantly updating data sheet. Along with this main assignment, I was assigned to each of the affiliates for one week to help them with any projects they had for me. I created marketing materials for social media using Photo Shop, edited a website, made JotForm’s, and compiled data. In the future, I hope to be a Computer Science major that goes to law school. My experience coding for ASAF in their database and websites helped me gain real world coding experience. My insight into nonprofits and public health helped give real world applications to public policy and a career in law

I was afraid to work a remote internship at first because of the fear of the unknown, but I found being remote to be one of the best experiences. I had the unique ability of being able to work with six different organizations going about the same goal. This helped me contextualize my learnings by region. Memphis is largely urban which calls for more classes. West Tennessee s mainly rural which requires more transportation to clinics. Each region had diverse needs which I had to consider when implementing a solution. The second most positive thing about being remote was that it forced me to be my own boss and use my time wisely. My supervisor would check in with me once or twice a week, but it was largely up to me to complete tasks in an orderly manner which was a great skill to work on. The last positive experience I had was being able to work on something that had a real-world impact. My database will be used in the future for measuring long term gains and applying to grants. I got to organize real Zoom classes to teach women about long-lasting reversible contraceptive.

I never participated in a Rocky Center program, nor was I a named intern. Overall, this experience was a magnificent view into the realm of public policy and software engineering jobs. I learned a lot about myself, my work habits, my organization, and how working remote can impact me. I met countless inspiring, hard-working people. I created a database, marketing materials, a website, and compiled thousands of data points. 

The Rockefeller Internships Program has funding for Dartmouth undergraduate students to help defray the cost of living expenses associated with a full-time, unpaid, leave-term internships in the fields of public policy, public affairs, and social entrepreneurship.

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