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  • Cole Mellino 9:20 pm on December 9, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , interning for the wrong reasons, the right reasons to intern   

    Final Dispatch 

    Today is my last day at my internship and I am genuinely really sad. I cannot speak highly enough of the internship program at the Center for American Progress. It is extremely well run. And the staff at CAP are just amazing people. They’ve always had really interesting things for me to do, such as researching for articles that I, or someone else is working on, writing articles, attending events, conferences, and meetings and taking notes and writing articles about these events. Yes, I’ve done a few not so fun things, such as transcribing interviews or checking people in for an event, but honestly, compared to what my friends tell me about their internships, CAP seems like one of the best places if you want to spend the vast majority of your time actually doing things that contribute to the work of the organization. I wasn’t interested in interning at a place just because it had good name recognition. I wanted to work at a place where I would actually do meaningful work. I managed to find a place that offers both (and it also offers a stipend), so I just really lucked out and that’s why I can’t rave enough about my internship.

    So my final advice to internship-seeking students: Do a lot of research. Find a place you actually think you’ll like working at and not just one that sounds good. Are the types of things you’ll be doing actually things you like doing? Don’t take an internship just because you think it’ll look good on a resume. You’ll just be cursing yourself every time you have to go to it. Do an internship because you think it’ll enrich your coursework and make you a more experienced young professional. Yes, you want to have work experience on your resume, but if it’s for something that you didn’t like and didn’t get much out of, what are you going to tell the interviewer for a potential job when she asks you about it. Well, those are my parting words. Good luck with your search.

    • Julia Beyer 4:29 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice points, Cole! It is very important to have a meaningful internship experience. I’ll be featuring this in the SOC Spot newsletter.

  • Cole Mellino 8:56 pm on December 9, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , cool experiences, eco-nerds, panels   

    UN Climate Change Conference 

    UN Climate Change Conference

    Yesterday, I helped set up for a web conference between a meeting of policy analysts here at the Center for American Progress and a group of policy analysts at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP-17, in Durban, South Africa. For eco-nerds such as myself, the UN Climate Change Conferences are a big deal, even though every year we get our hopes up only to be severely disappointed in the ability of the world’s leaders to work together to really solve the pressing issue of climate change. But still, sitting in on the conference and listening to these experts in the field discuss the issue of Europe including all flights (including flights from the US) in their emissions trading scheme, which would impose taxes on the airlines, was really cool. Obviously, this is a very controversial topic and it was very interesting to hear the analysts discuss how they think this will play out between Europe, the US, and the airlines. It has been so cool to sit in on panels, conferences, and meetings related to environmental issues. I’ve learned so much over the semester by attending them. They are a great part of the experience.

  • Cole Mellino 2:51 am on December 8, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: getting to know DC, , new connections, new friends, , work experience   

    More Perks to Being an Intern 

    Before I offer more perks, I have to give credit to my fellow intern,Jennifer Steck, who goes to university in the illustrious state of Nebraska (here’s a map for the geographically challenged), for helping me come up with this list. She brilliantly identified the innate desire within interns for free food. So kudos to her. Now to highlight some more perks of the low-wage to no-wage workforce…

    5. You’ll get to know DC so much better

    I’m someone who likes to get off campus and explore DC as much as possible, but having an internship takes it to a whole new level. Before my internship, getting out of Tenleytown didn’t happen very often during the week. My jaunts were left mostly to the weekends, which is fine. But if you’re looking to really experience the city you live in, interning is a great way to do it because you will explore a whole new part of the city.

    (More …)

    • Julia Beyer 4:37 pm on December 13, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Great tips! I really like the pictures you use to illustrate your points.

  • Cole Mellino 5:53 am on December 6, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , metro games, , sage advice   

    Perks of Being an Intern 

    1. You get to meet all kinds of new people

    Ok, so you probably won’t meet this guy, but you’ll probably get to meet or at least listen to many high profile politicians, statesmen and women, and the like. But the most interesting people will probably be the not-so-well known but incredibly intelligent policymakers and  fellow coworkers. I think I’ve become more intelligent just by listening to these smart people talk at me. (learning by osmosis. it’s a thing. google it)

    (More …)

  • Cole Mellino 1:42 am on December 5, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: cool opportunities,   

    Interviewing a film director 

    I went to a preview of the film Growthbusters, a documentary about the limits to growth in a resource-restrained world, here at American University. The director of the film, Dave Gardner, played some clips of the movie and then opened it up for questions. It seemed like a really interesting movie and I was excited for the premiere in a few weeks. I RSVP’d online from my work email and I got a response back asking if I’d like to do an interview on behalf of the Center for American Progress. I cleared it with my boss, who was all for it, decided there was no need to tell them I was just a lowly intern since they asked me for the interview, and so I arranged an interview with the director the night of the world premiere of the film in DC!

    I was a bit nervous, needless to say, but the interview went off without a hitch. He didn’t seem to mind that I was only an intern at CAP. He was just excited for some press and I was happy to give him and his great movie some good press. I recorded the interview and the next day at work I wrote up a review of the film. I emailed him the article after it was published and he really liked it, so that was good. It was really cool to interview him and go to the premiere of the film. Just another cool opportunity afforded me by my internship.

    P.S. Everyone should go see Growthbusters. Growthbusters trailer

  • Cole Mellino 10:59 pm on December 4, 2011 Permalink  

    How I came to love my internship part II 

    So I not only love my internship because of the great friends I’ve made. I also love it because of the work I get to do. I contribute to the Climate Progress blog by writing articles for the blog. My boss will send me a story he’d like me to write on or he’ll tell me to find something to write on. I write a lot about food and agriculture because I find it extremely interesting, but I write on a number of topics. My most recent posts have been about rural farmers protesting in Durban at the 2011 Climate Change Conference and algae as a biofuel source. It’s so great to be writing about topics that I’m really interested in. When I was first told I was going to be writing articles, I thought about how much I hate writing research papers for classes (major ugh) and I was worried I was not going to enjoy it. But writing articles for the blog is totally different than doing a formal research paper. It’s so much more enjoyable and fun. They’re obviously way shorter and on topics that I’m really interested. At the same time, I’ve really improved my research and writing abilities. I just can’t say enough about how great my internship has been.

  • Cole Mellino 12:38 am on December 4, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: making friends   

    How I came to love my internship part I 

    the illustrious intern wall

    Well I ended up becoming fast friends with all of the interns on the intern wall and interning became really fun. Don’t get me wrong it’s been a lot of work. But I never imagined I would have so much fun at my internship. All of the interns have done tremendous work over the semester, but we’ve also taken the time to get to know each other and to have a good time while at work and I really recommend doing that. That goes for the staff too. At the Center for American Progress, the staff is not that much older than us interns, so it’s been really fun to interact with them. Not only are they successful, hard-working individuals who run a very effective organization, but they are also really fun people. I’ve been to a couple happy hours with staff members and they’ve been a great way to get to know staff members even better. Since you’re either not getting paid or getting a small stipend, I think it’s so important to have a good time in addition to producing quality work. You want to enjoy coming in to work for next to nothing so make friends and be sociable.

  • Cole Mellino 7:18 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , first impressions   

    My First Day at the Office 

    I’ll be totally honest. I was not crazy about the place my first day there. One of my supervisors showed me my workspace, which was a row of computers and people squished together. I was not too excited about that. For the rest of the day, I mostly sat at the computer doing research.

    But everyone was really nice, especially my boss who told me he’d like me to write articles for the blog. That made me very nervous because I was not confident in my writing abilities. To top it all off, I had a very inadequate amount of sleep the night before and when I sat in on a staff meeting I couldn’t stop yawning and was nearly falling asleep. I was mortified (Take note: get plenty of sleep the night before the days you intern). By the end of the day I was not sure if I was going to like it at all. I didn’t like being inside all day nor did I like sitting at a desk and staring at a screen all day. But it was only my first day and I was determined to keep an open mind…

  • Cole Mellino 1:22 am on October 26, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , progressive   

    The VERY very beginning…. 

    So I realized that I did not properly introduce myself in the first blog. My name is Cole Mellino. I’m a junior studying environmental studies. I’m from Cleveland, Ohio originally. I intern at the Center for American Progress (CAP), which is a think tank that engages in progressive public policy research and advocacy. (More …)

  • Cole Mellino 9:26 pm on October 25, 2011 Permalink
    Tags: , , search process   

    Let’s start at the beginning… 

    I knew I wanted to work for a environmentally focused and progressive organization, so I did a lot of browsing the web for these types of organizations in DC. I used sites like idealist.org, which I highly recommend because you can really narrow your search and it has an extensive list of jobs and internships. I discovered the Center for American Progress’s internship program in late April and then I foolishly waited until the deadline in July to throw together my application in a day. I do not recommend doing this as it is stressful. Give yourself time and apply ahead of time. You’ll feel a lot better. How many times have you heard that line? But it’s true! I turned it in a few hours past midnight, which I’m sure does not look good and which just made me worried that I wouldn’t get the job. After a few weeks I got a phone call from the Center for American Progress saying they’d like to do a phone interview. I had my phone interview and I was nervous and I felt like I didn’t answer as well as I could have. But I think, in retrospect, I did just fine. So be confident because if you are like me, you tend to be too critical of yourself. After a few more weeks, I finally got the call that I was hired as an intern for the fall and I was ecstatic. So if I could offer advice for seeking and applying for internships, I’d say look hard for internships you’re really interested in. You’re going to have to go there for the entire semester. Let your passion drive your work and find something you’re truly interested in and not just something that looks good on a resume. Apply early, don’t wait until the last minute. And be confident in interviews and throughout the application process. Tell them why you are uniquely qualified for the position.

    • Francine Blume 8:33 pm on October 26, 2011 Permalink | Log in to Reply

      Nice advice, Cole! I think in school. We get so used to having to do things at the last minute that we sometimes feel the same way about job or internship applications. But by waiting to the last minute, you’re just increasing your own stress. In most of the time, you’re more likely to make silly mistakes that get your application thrown out in the first place.

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