By: Meredith Yinger – 2nd Year- Health Policy & Management
I did my practicum through the graduate internship program at the National Academy of Social Insurance in Washington, DC. I was one of nine interns selected for the 12 week program. For a Rollins student, this was a somewhat unconventional practicum.
I heard about the internship program at the Academy from another Rollins student who was a year ahead of me. She explained that she did policy research and memo writing for a labor union, and even though that wasn’t directly related to healthcare she had a great experience. The Academy provides a fairly generous stipend, and they match you with an organization that fits your interests.
I was placed at the Social Security Advisory Board (SSAB). SSAB is a tiny government agency that advises the Social Security Administration, and is made up of a politically appointed bipartisan Board and a support staff of about 8 full time employees. Being so small, the staff were all very busy but always took the time to help me with whatever I was working on. I primarily did background research on various Social Security issues that the Board was interested in, and presented my research orally and in memo form. I also got to help write a major report on Representative Payees. (I now have a lot of random Social Security knowledge so if anyone ever needs a crash course just let me know!)
While I enjoyed my experience at SSAB, I think the networking opportunities I had were also incredibly valuable. The Academy hosted several events and informational seminars throughout the summer. They had a Gala in June that I attended, and I ended up sitting next to the Chief Actuary of Social Security. Fun fact: he carries around one of those huge Trader Joes bars of dark chocolate. I also was allowed to go to any other events I wanted, so I ended up at a few seminars about Medicaid, ACA repeal, as well as the Disability Research Consortium and the Retirement Research Consortium.
I also got to meet a lot of amazing people who work on long term services and supports (LTSS) for the aging and disabled populations. This was big for me, since that’s the area I want to work in after I graduate and there aren’t a ton of people doing LTSS work here at Rollins. Most of the people that I met were incredibly helpful and equally excited that I want to do LTSS policy. These experiences also provided me with a lot of confidence when it comes to networking and informational interviews.
So in summary here are some take away points:
- Don’t be afraid to work on something that is a little bit outside of the realm of healthcare (or your comfort zone) if it gets you good experience and networking opportunities.
- And on a related note, don’t limit yourself to what is on Handshake or being talked about around Rollins when you are looking for a practicum.
- Talk to the people sitting next to you at Galas even if it is really awkward at first.
- Social Security is important and it is not going to be gone by the time we are old.
- If you want to talk LTSS, aging, and disability policy, or about the Academy or Washington DC, email the Rollins Ambassador email and ask to speak to me!