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

Notes from the Field: John Glance '18

Article Type 

Rockefeller Center-funded interns reflect on their experiences as part of our Notes from the Field series. The Rockefeller Center helps students find, fund, and prepare for a leave-term internship experience in public policy research, public policy analysis, issue evaluation, or activities which help shape and determine public policy.

 

 

Student Intern: John Glance '18

Internship Organization: 
U.S. Energy Information Administration

How would you describe your employer in one paragraph? What’s the elevator pitch?
The Energy Information Administration is an agency within the Department of Energy that produces independent and impartial energy statistics and analysis to promote sound and informed policymaking.

What are your specific responsibilities in the organization?
As an intern in the Office of Energy Markets and Financial Analysis, I'm working with a team of economists to help update the macroeconomic component of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). We use NEMS to estimate the impact of energy policy on the macroeconomic environment. For example, my team may look at how the implementation of a carbon tax in the United States may affect GDP, unemployment, petroleum, natural gas, coal, and electricity consumption and production in the short, medium, and long run. My internship has been focused on updating the macroeconomic component of NEMS to include energy imports and exports so that we can look at how energy policies will affect international trade.

How did you feel on the first day of your internship?
I didn't really start my internship until the third day of my official start date. The first day I arrived there was a large group of new employees. DOE staff ended up directing me to an information session for new employees that went on for 7 hours that covered topics like employee benefits, health insurance, life insurance, 401k's etc. It was not until the second day that human capital employee in charge of my office told me that I wasn't supposed the new employee orientation. On the bright side, I now know everything there is to know about the benefits of joining the federal workforce.

What is your favorite part of the internship so far?
Helping to create a model that can greatly influence policy decisions.

What challenges have you faced so far?
As part of my project, I had to make sure that the data we were putting in our model was consistent with that of other statistical agencies. The problem was that each statistical agency reports their data in different units. For example, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports coal imports in nominal dollars, the International Energy Agency reports them in kilotonnes of oil equivalent, the Census Bureau reports them in short tons, and our model needed coal imports in BTU's. I was not familiar with all of the energy units, and made a mistake converting some of the units. My supervisor is primarily an economist, and did not notice my mistake. I ended up presenting some of my findings showing what I believed to be errors in our data to other economists, only for them to point out that I made an error in my own conversions. Although this was only a small part of my presentation, I made sure to correct my conversions and email out the correct results.

Broadly speaking, what do you hope to achieve by the end of your internship?
I hope to achieve a better understanding of how we can use mathematical modeling to make better decisions.

What have been some practical lessons you've learned in the day-to-day life of your internship?
Eating out everyday is a lot more expensive than you would expect. Lunches are usually around $10 and if you end up going out to eat at a cafe or restaurant for dinner, it usually adds up to at least $20 when you include tip. At the beginning of my internship I was going through my funds quicker than I expected. Cooking your own meals at home ends up being a lot more affordable, and bringing lunch will save you a lot of money.

 

 

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