AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow
Arizona State University
Postdoc: Sociology of Science
Tell us about your fellowship responsibilities. I work on topics related to data governance, portfolio analysis, and building computational capacity for social science within OAR. For these topics, I attend or organize relevant regular meetings, collaborate with a variety of professionals throughout NOAA, and write and publish presentations, technical reports, and journal articles.
Why did you feel this fellowship would be a good fit?
I wanted to join NOAA because the team I would be working with is really good, and because I was interested to learn more about career tracks in science agencies. It was easy to identify the team as good because they expressed open-mindedness, collegiality, good humor, and curiosity. Those characteristics all fit with my personality and approach to work. I think these characteristics are also common to many teams in NOAA.
Looking back on what you accomplished as a fellow, what are you most proud of?
I am most happy that I worked on a wide variety of very different topics with many different professionals. For any given week I worked with economists and social scientists, data scientists, natural scientists, program officers, program analysts, information technicians, policy analysts, project managers, etc. These folks taught me about the huge array of projects active within the agency at any given time, and how to contribute and communicate effectively as a member of many different teams.
What was the most valuable thing you learned as a LaPenta intern?
I learned how to work collaboratively within a government agency, which differs from working collaboratively in academia. In academia, you might collaborate only with other researchers. But at an agency like NOAA, collaborations essentially include program managers, policy analysts, civil servants, contractors, and operational staff, among many others. Not everyone wants or needs to discuss minute details of methodology, and they often talk more about how agency activities and projects satisfy directions from different parts of the government. I learned to work with all of these folks to quickly identify what they need from me and provide it. This skill is essential for agency work, but it also transfers to academia, industry, and nonprofits.
In what way(s) has this internship experience impacted you?
My time at NOAA convinced me that the people who work in NOAA and in Federal science agencies more generally are incredible. They are smart, capable, collegial, and grounded. They are ideal people with which to build careers.
Finally, do you have any advice for students looking for an internship at NOAA?
Send in your application! NOAA’s mission is so important that it needs people from all backgrounds to advance it. NOAA folks are collegial and happy to talk about their work. It’s ok to politely email and meet with NOAA people to talk about their work, agency opportunities, and how your unique training and perspectives could advance the mission. Furthermore, NOAA is a great place to explore Federal science careers, build a large professional network, and conduct work that is service-oriented and rewarding.
Winter/spring opportunities will be posted soon. Stay tuned!
Written July 27, 2022 by: Alexus Moore, Pathways Student Intern