Celebrating National Intern Day

In celebration of National Intern Day on July 28, we asked Bellwarians to reflect on the valuable lessons they’ve learned through past (and present) internships. 

Gage Matthews, summer 2022 intern, Policy and Evaluation 

My Bellwether internship has been incredibly valuable for learning about career paths, interacting with diverse teams of skilled and influential professionals, expanding my personal network, and identifying and developing critical skills for my professional future. 

So far this summer, I’ve been able to work with various forms of data and interact with many stakeholders and organizations. I’ve also learned the value of working closely with internal and external stakeholders, while introducing rigorous methods into evaluations and analyses. The diversity of team members and expertise needed to fully support a range of clients and projects has informed how I consider the construction of teams and my role within them. As someone who has mostly been in the school and university setting for many years, working in a different organization with highly skilled teams has been a wonderful experience that will inform my professional path in the short and long term. 

Krista Kaput, senior analyst, Policy and Evaluation

The summer between my second and third year of teaching, I participated in a public policy and advocacy internship with Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS). During my internship, I assisted with researching and writing MPS’ $14 million GEAR UP grant — which served 2,560 students in 17 of the district’s middle and high schools. The goal of the grant was to increase academic performance, graduation rates, and the percentage of students who enrolled in postsecondary education. I also worked on a project around Early Warning Indicators, researching national best practices and policies, and interviewing principals, counselors, and other stakeholders about school culture, goals, and intervention programs already in place. I synthesized the information and produced a report with recommendations for MPS on next steps for implementing a ninth-grade on-track indicator. 

This internship affirmed the importance of doing both qualitative and quantitative research in policymaking. It’s critical to not only look at data and best practices, but to also speak to on-the-ground experts doing the work and being directly impacted by policies. This lesson grounded me when I was doing statewide education advocacy in Minnesota and continues to guide the work I do at Bellwether today.

Priyanka Patel, analyst, Policy and Evaluation; former summer 2021 intern

I started my journey at Bellwether as a Policy and Evaluation intern the summer of 2021. Like many doctoral students, I always thought I’d pursue a career in academia. However, my many years as a student, while being generally very positive, also made clear to me the type of work that I found fulfilling. As I was researching potential employers, I recognized that there were many non-academic jobs that aligned with my interests. Some of these employers were offering summer internships and thought it might be a good way to test which type of professional environment would best suit my skills. Bellwether quickly stood out as a top choice — the work aligned so closely with my own interests. 

During my Bellwether internship, I spent 10 weeks working closely with Bellwether’s evaluation team. What really made my time as an intern meaningful was how Bellwether treats its interns like integral members of the team. Although interns are only hired for a fixed time period, we were fully integrated into the organization. We not only got to know the ins and outs of Bellwether, but were also given the opportunity to interact with clients and to make direct contributions on projects. I was able to get a firsthand look at what my day-to-day experience would be like working in research and evaluation in a non-academic setting. By the end of my internship, I was much more confident about pursuing a career outside of academia. The experience led me to apply for a full-time position with Bellwether and nearly one year later, I could not be happier!