Valerie Truong '21 interned at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) during the 2020 spring term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.
The American Enterprise Institute is a public policy think tank that houses scholars who produce research related to defending human dignity, expanding human potential, and building a freer and safer world. AEI’s politics and public opinion division seeks to understand the most pressing demographic, social, economic, and political issues in the country, as well as the trends that characterize American life. As a Politics and Survey Research Intern, I worked primarily with Research Fellow Dan Cox and his team on a variety of projects. He is an expert on polling and public opinion and specializes in survey research, politics, youth culture and identity, and religion. During my internship this past term, I have been able to work on several long-term projects. I helped out with a variety of tasks on two iterations of the American Perspectives Survey, one on partisan attachment and how politics is changing dating and relationships in the Trump era, and the other on Americans’ response to the coronavirus outbreak. Other major survey projects I worked on were the Community and Civic Life survey and a STEM survey. I was able to engage in conversations with scholars and research assistants across other departments when they were collaborators on an ongoing survey, learn about the media push when a survey report was released, quickly analyze survey results, help draft survey questionnaires, and convey interesting results through visualizing the data.
Interning at AEI has led me to reflect deeply about what I want to do as a career. I see myself conducting research in some capacity, especially research that contributes to and informs the development or implementation of public policy. I found it exciting to conduct fast-paced research that has applications in and impacts the real world. I am currently most interested in a career in the policy sector, which could entail working for think tanks, national or municipal governments, or other non-profit organizations. This Politics and Survey Research internship will help me in my professional development journey because I have learned both the hard and soft skills I need to grow professionally. Another way this AEI internship may inform my path to my future career in the policy or private sector is that it has allowed me to work with and learn from some of the most renowned scholars in their field. AEI provided access to a network of people that I was able to learn from.
Finally, being able to interact with my peers and fellow interns was rewarding. While they too were interested in policy, research, and business, we also had different backgrounds and opinions, so I appreciated learning more about the work they were engaged in and the experiences they had.
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.