Student Government Interns: Making a Difference in Maine

On this episode of Maine Policy Matters, we’ll be talking with Peggy McKee, director of the Maine Government Summer Internship Program, to hear about the history and impact on students and government agencies. We’ll also be hearing from a few interns and their supervisors throughout the episode to get an inside look at what it’s like to participate in this program. 

Transcript

[00:00:00] Eric Miller: Hello and welcome back to season four of Maine Policy Matters, the official podcast of the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center at the University of Maine, where we discuss the policy matters that are most important to Maine’s people and why Maine policy matters at the local, state, and national levels.

My name is Eric Miller, and I’ll be your host. Today we’ll be talking with Peggy McKee, director of the Maine Government Summer Internship Program to hear about the history and impact on students and government agencies. We’ll also be hearing from a few interns and their supervisors throughout the episode to get an inside look at what it’s like to participate in this program.

Peggy McKee directs the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center’s Maine Government Summer Internship Program and the Policy Center’s Student Scholarship Programs as well. Outside her work for the internship program, she has participated in multidisciplinary projects which inform state-level decision making, such as assessment of the impacts of the use of road salt in Maine, and analysis of extended producer responsibility recycling programs enacted by the Maine legislature and reports on poverty in Maine.

Hi Peggy. Thanks for joining us today. What is the Maine Government Summer Internship Program? Its history and how did you come to be involved?

[00:01:13] Peggy McKee: Yeah, sure. This program places students in full-time, paid summer internships, uh, in Maine state and local government. And these can be jobs in state agencies like the Department of Labor or Education or transportation, or in municipal governments, like in a town manager’s office or in a county government.

And the program was started, uh, way back in 1967 by the legislature as a way to connect college students to careers in the executive branch of state government, which understandably they might not know a whole lot about, and to provide state agencies. Then also with the fresh ideas and new skills that that come from younger workers.

And then the policy center has been administering this internship program since about 1990 when in 2006, the state internship, which is what it was then, was expanded to include municipal and county governments. Uh, so now we’re able to offer both state and local government internships to, um, roughly 50 students every summer.

[00:02:18] Eric Miller: That’s great. And the, uh, integration of, or expansion rather of the, uh, program to include, um, other levels of, of government, uh, is great to give people the more options and more experience. And also, uh, just facilitating, uh, connection between, uh, different folks that may not expect to interact with university students too often if you’re at the, at a county level or, or municipal level government. That’s, that’s fantastic.

Uh, since it’s been going on for a while there, it must have been, it must be fairly successful in getting, in placing quite a few people. And so how does the internship have positive impacts on the students? How have they transformed these, and how did these internships transform the lives and career paths of, of students who participate?

[00:03:10] Peggy McKee: Um, well I, first of all, I think it really does have a lot of impacts on students, um, just from what I hear back from interns after their experience. Um, and I think there’s several ways that internships have impacts on, on the summer interns. Um, for a lot of students, uh, this internship is their first taste of a, a professional job.

Um, so there are a lot of benefits that they get from that being in a professional workplace. Um, And many interns tell us that their summer internship really opened their eyes to the possibility of working in the public sector, which they hadn’t thought about before. Um, and they had no idea about the, the wide variety of jobs that there are in, in Maine government.

Um, ’cause basically any job you can do in the private sector, you can also do in the government sector. And students just don’t often think about that. So the internships let students explore careers that they might not, career areas they might not have known really were there. You know, for example, you could have a, a history or a communication internship and be working in the Department of Transportation or, you know, we had a student this year with a law degree working in, in the Department of Agriculture.

So those, those kind of, uh, things that aren’t linear connections, the students might not think about. The other benefit that we hear from students is that they tell us it’s really the connections they make during their internship, through their supervisors and coworkers that are, are so valuable. The supervisors introduce interns to all aspects of the job from going to meetings or meeting with other, connecting with other staff.

Um, so it, it really allows the intern to know, learn a lot in a short amount of time.

[00:04:58] Eric Miller: It’s really cool that they’re able to connect their academic discipline with public service in a way that is pretty creative. I wouldn’t expect to be, uh, me if I was, if I was practicing or, or intending to go to law school or what have you, to have experience in like, uh, agricultural, um, public service type of role.

That’s really cool. And so of course there’s been benefits for the, for the students, but how about the, the organizations, agencies that, that host them, uh, what do you hear back from those folks and how do they help grow the workforce and the needed skills, um, to prepare them for, um, public work?

[00:05:41] Peggy McKee: Yeah, definitely the benefits are not just to the students.

I think for the agencies and the towns and the supervisors first, there’s the work value, uh, of, of the projects they’re working on. Interns are often working on projects that, um, the host agency doesn’t have the time or the staff to do during the year, and so they summer interns who can help fill in that way.

And often these can be big ongoing projects or they could be projects that require just special skills that an intern might have where their staff doesn’t have the skill. So the intern’s work contribution is really a big value for the host. But I also think then I hear from supervisors that the, the value of the internship really goes beyond the work value.

Many supervisors will tell us that the intern is just a, a, a really positive addition to their workplace in, in the bigger sense because interns bring new ideas, they bring fresh energy, new skills to the job, and that all of that benefits the supervisor and their coworkers. Uh, one more thing is that, uh, sometimes supervisors will actually be able to hire an intern after their internship, uh, or maybe a year after graduation, like after graduation, right? And, and that’s a real success for. Everybody. Um, but uh, you know, even if they don’t, aren’t able to hire the intern, that that intern has had a big impact on the, the people they’re working with on the host.

[00:07:12] Eric Miller: Yeah, that’s wonderful. So much more than just getting coffee and not being at the table at all. So, and, uh, that’s great that they’re getting, they’re getting valuable, tangible experience that they can carry on at that agency later or, um, at whatever their future position is.

And so this is, uh, can be a way to keep people in Maine and that is an important, uh, thing that people are trying to address is, uh, keeping young people in Maine’s workforce.

How do you see the internship program as an effort to keep young people in Maine?

[00:07:48] Peggy McKee: Yeah, it is. It really is an important issue now in how to develop Maine’s younger workforce. And, um, most of the students who apply to these government internships have already, uh, they have a strong connection to Maine, whether they grew up here or they’re studying here for college.

Um, and so they start off with this desire to make a contribution. And the internship program is able to show them a range of jobs that they might not have known about before, where they can see that there are jobs here in Maine where they can contribute their talents. Um, so hopefully we’re, you know, through this program we’re adding to, uh, the future workforce of Maine

[00:08:31] Eric Miller: That’s great.

Are there any particular success stories of the internship program that you’d like to bring up?

[00:08:37] Peggy McKee: Well, I know that you’re gonna talk with some students, so, um, I might just let the students speak for themselves, uh, about their successes. But, um, I believe that every internship is a success story, um, mostly because it’s a learning experience and so you can’t go wrong.

Um, every intern is going to learn something from their experience. They might discover a career that they wanna pursue. Uh, they might learn more about a particular job and then be able to redirect their career goals. Or they might even learn that they just don’t want do this. And, and, uh, actually that’s super helpful to know when you’re going forward in your career, find out what you don’t want to do, helps you find out what you do want to do.

[00:09:22] Eric Miller: Absolutely. I can empathize with that sentiment very strongly. A lot of what I learned was what I didn’t want to pursue, and that just helps get to the area that you want to be and you just try things and you learn by, by trying. Uh, is there anything that we haven’t discussed here that you would like to bring up?

[00:09:42] Peggy McKee: Um, sure. I’d like, I’d like to just say that wow, we at the policy center administer this internship program. The real strength behind the program is the supervisors, um, the, uh, state and local government employees who choose to host an intern. Um, they’re the ones who design the projects that the interns work on.

They supervise the students, they provide the overall professional experience. So for anybody listening to this podcast who might like to hire an intern or has hired an intern, I, I’d really just like to say thank you, uh, ’cause it is such a valuable experience for the student and, and it’s a way that you as a supervisor can make a contribution and also benefit. Along those same lines my message to any students out there listening, uh, would be to consider an internship in Maine government, even if you aren’t sure what your career path might be, because there’s just so much to be learned and, and it can apply to any career that you choose, uh, going forward. And the interns will meet some of the just wonderful and really dedicated people who make our government work in Maine and that’s, that’s a huge value.

[00:10:57] Eric Miller: Very well put. Thank you so much for, uh, doing what you do, directing the internship program. Many, many folks have benefited, uh, students and, um, state, municipal and county agencies alike have all, have all benefited. So we’re all grateful for that and we’re also grateful to podcast for you speaking with us.

[00:11:17] Peggy McKee: Well, thank you very much. It’s, it’s a pleasure.

[00:11:25] Eric Miller: Now that we have heard a bit about the program’s history and purpose, we’ll talk to Jayson Heim, our producer, who will tell us a bit more about the different events interns attended over the summer. Jayson, welcome uh, to being on the air. Can you tell the listeners who you are and about your participation in the program?

[00:11:43] Jayson Heim: Thank you. Yeah, so I work in, um, communications at the policy center, and I’m also the podcast producer and writer for the podcast, so I mainly edit and write. I’m not usually on the speaking side, so this is the first. So yeah, so the interns had three events over the summer, uh, which I attended. So the first one was the Maine Government Summer Internship Program kickoff event, which was at the beginning of the summer on May 30th. The program commenced with a meeting held at the University of Maine at Augusta where 48 students gathered with their supervisors to start their summer. Students are either residents of Maine or studying in Maine, and they were selected for full-time paid internships. Uh, so this was an event where this is the first time that the interns were meeting their supervisors and vice-versa.

They had like a sort of meet and greet. And then we sat for, you know, some presentations and talks. Um, and this was the first big workday for them. So they spent, you know, the majority of the day at university of Maine at Augusta. And then they sort of, you know, broke off and went to their different, you know, internship locations and got set up, you know, with their offices and with their supervisors.

Uh, so the second event that I attended was the Intern Education Day. Uh, so that began at the Maine Municipal Association where interns sat for a presentation by Kate Dufour, which is the Ward One Counselor of the City of Hallowell. And she talked about municipal government and intergovernmental systems. So then we sat for a panel discussion with Yanina Nickless, Director of Support Services, town of Kennebunkport; and Natalie Thompson, Town Planner, Town of Brunswick; and Melissa Hue, Director of Economic Opportunity in the city of Portland. And they talked about their journeys in municipal government and how they got to where they are in their careers. And I think it was great for the interns to sort of, listen to them speak because they talked about, you know, starting, some of them started out as interns and sort of went through, you know, this whole process to end up where they are now.

All three of them didn’t think that they would end up where they are. So I think it was good for, you know, interns to sort of hear that, you know, there isn’t always one, sort of straight, you know, path to their, to your career. So that was the first half of the day and then we shifted to the State House for the second half in the Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Room and the Senate Chambers, where interns were able to hear the experiences of various staff of the State House.

And that was really interesting. It was the first time I was also at the State House in Augusta. And just hearing the various people talk about their jobs and all the different things that you can do working in the State House and sort of the passion that the people spoke with, they were, you know, genuinely loved their jobs.

Uh, so that, I think that was great. And then the last event that I attended and, uh, Nicole Leblanc, who is our intern writer for Main Policy Matters, uh, we both attended the intern graduation day at the Blaine House in Augusta. And this was sort of the final commencement of the program where interns and their supervisors gathered to celebrate the successful completion of the internship.

Governor Janet Mills was there and she gave, you know, a thoughtful, uh, speech about working in government. And she personally handed every intern their graduation certificate, and that was really great to have Governor Mills come. She spoke at length about a variety of things and it was interesting she, sort of made connections with Margaret Chase Smith and she went by this quote that Margaret Chase Smith used to say.

So that was a really cool connection, I think was a good sort of moment between the program, the policy center, and the governor.

[00:15:01] Eric Miller: That’s fantastic. We’re really, uh, grateful that you all went into the field to get some, uh, feedback from the interns and supervisors and there, upon listening to the interviews myself, there was quite the energy, uh, around working in government, which, uh, you don’t normally, uh, think of when you, when you think of stereotypical government workers, but, uh, there is, uh, that energy there, which is great. And we’ll be playing those interviews, uh, shortly here. And so thank you, uh, Jayson and Nicole for heading in the field.

[00:15:31] Jayson Heim: Yeah, thank you so much.

[00:15:41] James Greenwood: My name is James Greenwood. I just graduated from the University of Maine, Orono with a degree in Ecology and Environmental Sciences, and I am the data assistant in GIS research assistant for the Maine Department of Environmental Protection this summer.

[00:15:56] Jayson Heim: What was your immediate reaction when you found out you got the internship?

[00:15:59] James Greenwood: I was pretty excited. I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do after I graduated, so I’m glad that I found something, but I was excited that it would be direct experience in my field without being able to fully commit to a full-time job yet.

[00:16:10] Jayson Heim: Any main objectives or goals for this internship?

[00:16:12] James Greenwood: My goal is to find out more about what I would like to do with my future is as well as to network with some people in the state agency that I’ll be working for.

[00:16:22] Jayson Heim: A bit about the project or task you’re particularly excited about to work on the internship.

[00:16:26] James Greenwood: Sure. I believe, from my understanding, I’m working, um, within the PFAS unit of the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, and I’ll be doing some backlogging of data points into their GIS system that haven’t been entered yet, as they’ve been just updating and everything’s been moving so fast with PFAS that they haven’t had a chance to get in there and do that. So that’s gonna be my project for the summer. And then once I’m done that I should be able to go explore within the department with other teams and stuff and see what they’re doing.

[00:16:52] Jayson Heim: Your long-term career aspirations and how do you believe this internship will contribute to your overall professional development?

[00:16:58] James Greenwood: My goal is I would love to be involved somewhere within a state agency, working with the environment and just making the place that we live a better place for us and future generations.

My picture of what that looks like as of right now is not so clear, but that’s what this internship is with, hopefully I can figure that out and go back to grad school and get some more guidance and expertise.

[00:17:19] Jayson Heim: Where are you originally from?

[00:17:21] James Greenwood: I’m originally from Lewiston, Maine, and I went to Oak Hill High School in Wales.

[00:17:25] Jayson Heim: All right. Thank you so much.

[00:17:25] James Greenwood: Yeah, of course.

[00:17:27] Cora Saddler: My name is Cora Sadler. I am at the University of Maine in Orono. I’m an English studies major with a concentration in creative writing, and right now I’m doing internship with the Maine Department of Education, working as a professional development assistant for adult multi-multilingual learners.

[00:17:44] Jayson Heim: So what was your immediate reaction when you found out that you got the internship?

[00:17:48] Cora Saddler: I was excited. I think it’s really cool. I worked on, my last internship I worked with people struggling with homelessness, but a big part of that was literacy. So I got to work with some writing workshops and developed like a love for adult learners.

And I think that as soon as I like saw what this internship was, it was less that I got an internship and more about the match that happened. And so I was super excited about that.

[00:18:11] Jayson Heim: So what are your main objectives or goals for this internship?

[00:18:14] Cora Saddler: I definitely want to try to take more initiative, I think in this internship.

I think the last internship I did was my first internship in a new place. So there’s a lot of different things I was navigating. And now I feel like I have more experience and I have more time to really invest in this. So I really want to take initiative and kind of try to make it my own role.

[00:18:35] Jayson Heim: So can you tell me a bit more about the project or task you’re particularly excited to work on during the internships?

Anything specific that you’re looking forward to?

[00:18:42] Cora Saddler: Yes, there’s something very specific. We have in our internship this thing called the Adult Multi Institute- Multilingual Summer Institute.

[00:18:51] Jayson Heim: Mm-hmm.

[00:18:51] Cora Saddler: Which is basically like a retreat. It’s up in Sugarloaf Mountain, they call it the Sugarloaf Retreat. And basically I am in charge of coordinating, developing, and organizing this retreat for adult educators to kind of just have more or less a conference surrounding multilingual education.

[00:19:08] Jayson Heim: So what are your long-term career aspirations and how do you believe this internship will contribute to your overall professional development?

[00:19:14] Cora Saddler: That’s a big question. I definitely think that what I’m doing now, I want to teach English, um, abroad, and that extends to adult learners. And so I think this task really helped me develop not only the language I need to pursue in that career path, but also kind of the know-how and the knowledge and how to organize and run different things.

[00:19:34] Jayson Heim: And I’m interested, how did you find out about the internship? ‘Because you’re the, a Master’s student, so how did you get involved with that?

[00:19:39] Cora Saddler: Just applying for as many internship as I, I possibly could. And it was, I went to the Maine-

[00:19:45] Jayson Heim: Is it like the-

[00:19:46] Cora Saddler: Career center.

[00:19:47] Jayson Heim: Yeah.

[00:19:47] Cora Saddler: And they took a bunch of, they had a bunch of links and websites and so they got me in contact with Peggy.

[00:19:53] Jayson Heim: Yeah. And where are you from originally?

[00:19:55] Cora Saddler: Arkansas.

[00:19:55] Jayson Heim: All right. Thank you so much, Cora.

[00:19:56] Cora Saddler: Thank you.

[00:19:57] Amy Poland: My name is Amy Poland and I’m the Professional Development Coordinator for the adult Education Team at the Maine Department of Education. I think that one of the great parts of having an intern is that it’s really an opportunity to provide an intern with a real world experience in, in a government setting.

I think we only see a tiny little bit as the public of what actually happens in state government and even thinking about in the education world, even our, our fields don’t always grasp kind of the scope of what the work is that we are, we’re doing. And so I think it sort of gives that behind the scenes look for interns to be able to see all of the ins and outs of, of the things that we’re doing in state government and having an intern, Cora, first of all, I could sing her praises all day, um, but really provide sort of that fresh perspective on things. And she came in not really knowing that much about adult education and that was sort of a benefit in a lot of ways because it helped us see things kind of in an un-she saw things kind in, in a way that was sort of un-objectified. She was able to ask questions that maybe we hadn’t thought about or have a take on things that we, um, wouldn’t have thought about because we’re so deep into the work. Um, and having her perspective was really, really helpful. She always asked great questions, um, and always had, uh, interesting things to share in her perspective.

Advice that we would give, I think to be open, to try something new or maybe work with an agency that you hadn’t thought about, that there are really interesting projects happening everywhere. It was, the intern graduation was so cool to hear all of the different things that people were doing and everything from the mapping cemeteries to Cora’s project of planning a multi-day institute.

And I think that if you sort of have come into that application process with a, “this is the agency I want to work with and this is the the type of thing I’m looking for”, you could be missing out on a really amazing opportunity. And then also just for the application process, highlight the skills that you bring to a situation, not just the experiences that you’ve had, but as a supervisor, I’m looking for what kinds of skills someone might have, because so many things that we do in our previous experiences are transferable to a new situation.

My favorite part of working with Cora was her creativity and her friendliness and her willingness to jump into the work. When we talked about her goals early on, she, one of the things she mentioned was she wanted to have the opportunity to sort of, really understand all of the work that we were doing, but also to learn how to take initiative on projects and to look for ways to be doing things that weren’t necessarily right in her job description.

She really wasn’t afraid to offer up. And as a result, she ended up working with other team members doing things that maybe she hadn’t expected to do at the beginning. She wasn’t afraid to reach out, and I was asking her to do things like cold calling people basically, and, and, uh, she did not even hesitate to do any of those things so that, that’s huge.

Um, she really was very self-directed and I appreciated that. And I’m not sure how we’re going to adjust without having her. I worked very closely with her. Um, she provided a ton of support specifically for our multi-day multilingual Institute, summer Institute. She left us though, with this incredible blueprint for next year.

She created a document that collected all of the forms we used, the emails we used, and I think whoever takes charge of it next year has a great starting point thanks to her. But for now, we’re gonna be on our own. And this is my first time supervising, so I haven’t had an intern before. Uh, I hope that we’ll be able to have one again. Uh, and Cora would obviously be welcome to come back.

I learned a lot about clear communication and expectations of tasks, um, especially if it’s a-someone who’s unfamiliar with the area that they’re interning in. So, and working remotely always presents kind of an interesting challenge too. So working with Cora, sort of understanding what, what her needs were and that she at first we needed, you know, we met every day and made sure we kind of set the stage for the day and sort of feeling her out for what her needs were, to make sure that she understood what I was looking for and what we needed to do for the project that we were working on.

[00:24:57] Jayson Heim: Great. That’s great. Those were all great answers, hit everything.

[00:25:03] Laurie Andre: So my name is Laurie Andre. I’m the director for the General Government Service Center, which is part of DAFPS, Department of Financial Professional Services.

[00:25:10] Jayson Heim: How long have you been working with the internship program?

[00:25:13] Laurie Andre: So I’ve been working for the state for 25 years, and I’ve worked with interns in the previous, but this is the first time being a supervisor, so I’m pretty excited about it.

[00:25:22] Jayson Heim: Yeah. So what are you most excited about being an advisor now?

[00:25:25] Laurie Andre: I think just getting a different perspective. I know our policies and procedures and as I show her our intern, some of our, tell them a little bit about our department and what we do. I’m interested in getting that objective point of view, some fresh eyes into our policies and procedures and teach somebody what we do.

[00:25:43] Jayson Heim: Yeah, definitely.

[00:25:43] Laurie Andre: We do touch so many different departments. I’m really looking forward to giving somebody the opportunity, learning a little bit about government, and hopefully they decide they wanna work for the state or government.

[00:25:55] Jayson Heim: Yeah, that’ll be great for them I imagine. So you have one intern that’s coming?

[00:25:58] Laurie Andre: I have one, yes. Yes.

[00:25:59] Jayson Heim: What’s her name?

[00:26:00] Laurie Andre: Her name is Jenna Roane yeah, yeah I haven’t met her yet, so I met her. I did a Teams call, a quick Teams call with her, but I haven’t met her in person yet.

[00:26:07] Jayson Heim: Yeah, I imagine this is the big meeting, everybody’s, yeah.

[00:26:10] Laurie Andre: Yeah. Looking forward to it.

[00:26:11] Jayson Heim: Yeah. So are you originally from Maine or did you end up moving here?

[00:26:14] Laurie Andre: Yeah lived in Maine my whole life. Yes. Yeah. Used to live in more Central Green, Leeds area. Now I’m right in Gardiner very close to Augusta.

[00:26:21] Jayson Heim: Oh, nice. Yeah. And did you ever participate in an internship when you were first starting out?

[00:26:26] Laurie Andre: I actually did. It was for ADP payroll. It was great. It was payroll taxes, very tax related, and actually it was a great experience for me because that kind of pivoted me over to more of the business management side of things.

[00:26:39] Jayson Heim: Yeah, definitely. And did you attend the University of Maine, being from Maine?

[00:26:42] Laurie Andre: No, I actually Husson graduate, but my daughter goes to the University of Maine in Orono. Yeah, definitely support the system for sure.

[00:26:48] Jayson Heim: Yeah, definitely. All right. Thank you so much for particip-

[00:26:49] Laurie Andre: Yeah, thank you. Nice to meet you.

[00:26:51] Jayson Heim: Yeah, nice to meet you too.

[00:26:52] Laurie Andre: Thanks.

[00:26:55] Jayson Heim: So can you tell me a little bit about your internship, where you go to school and what’s your major?

[00:27:00] Jenna Roane: Sure. So I’m going to be a senior in the fall at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. I’m a sociology major, and my minor is Ethics, Society, and Institution-institution of Business. And at my internship this summer, I’m a Operations and Communications intern for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services at the state. And my two main projects this summer have been one, creating a newsletter that improves the lines of communications between the general government service center and the agency partners that we work with. And my second project of the summer is creating a standard operating processes, a catalog for GSC.

Which is just gonna make processes more efficient and new hires will understand the processes better.

[00:27:47] Jayson Heim: Great. Yeah. So it sounds like you’re pretty busy with the internship.

[00:27:49] Jenna Roane: Definitely.

[00:27:50] Jayson Heim: Is this your first internship that you’ve had or have you had ones in the past?

[00:27:53] Jenna Roane: Um, no. So last summer I was a strategy, quality and compliance intern at Sweetzer through the Daniel Hanley Center for Healthcare Leadership.

And that was sort of a healthcare administrative spin on business, but I wanted to see what the public sector was like this summer.

[00:28:08] Jayson Heim: Great. Are there any challenges that you’ve encountered in this internship that you weren’t expecting or any successes that you’ve had so far?

[00:28:16] Jenna Roane: Yeah, so first I can talk about the successes. I’ve really enjoyed, like the creative experience of creating a newsletter and also the journey along the way of creating the newsletter. I’ve been able to reach out to the different accounting teams within GSC and through that process and gathering information, I’ve learned a lot about the service center as a whole.

Challenges, I would say just like the learning curve of not really having any experience in DAFs and then having the task of creating a newsletter with all these helpful tidbits. There definitely was a pretty big learning curve in the acronyms, but I’m definitely thankful that my supervisor is so helpful, and like acknowledging that learning curve and giving me some time just to go through resources she gave me in websites and sit-in job shadow so that I could better understand the department.

[00:29:07] Laurie Andre: Certainly having Jenna on board has provided a fresh perspective, you know, a new perspective on any organizational issues or she’s brought fresh ideas to our, to our team, and she also introduced us into software and trends, you know, as far as newsletters and templates and that kind of thing.

So definitely helped out there. It was great because she created us, she created a template for future newsletters. So, you know, she set us up, she created, she gave us some ideas and, and now we have a great template with different sections that we can use moving forward. And then also with our standard operating processes, I felt like we had them all over the place.

She helped us organize them and then she created a table of content. So anytime we click on the table of contents goes right to that process. So definitely has helped us um, Become more organized and, and sets us up for success in the future. And we threw so much information at her and I, I, I’m glad she had the opportunity to job shadow different divisions as well, you know, not just ours.

And, and she also, in a way, kind of challenged us on how we’ve traditionally done things, you know, she questioned, she was working on our, um, our, um, standard operating processes and it’s one thing to go through, organize, create a table of contents, but, you know, she’d ask questions that it got us kind of thinking, you know, um, she also helped us create a newsletter to better communicate with our agency partners. So that was definitely one of the favorite outcomes of having an intern.

From my perspective, it’s definitely worth the investment and the time, you know, to spend with the intern because it really ensures that we have future success and perhaps, you know, discover new talent and future leaders. You know, I, I feel like these interns are our, our future and it definitely was encouraging to have her on board. It really, it really was. So hopefully we’ll get her back.

I guess I would say just apply for anything that interests you. You know, especially in college, you’re not really sure, most aren’t particularly sure what they want to do, you know, after they have an idea, but, you know, just, it’s a great opportunity just to gain that hands-on experience and, um, just supple-it just supplements their education and sometimes focusing strictly on one form of experience, it might narrow your options. So just apply for anything that interests you. There’s so many different ways you can take your degree and, um, certainly many opportunities, but within the state for sure, um, and help create her professional network. Um, so, so yeah, definitely wanna keep in touch with Jenna. You know, we shared contact information and, uh, definitely very interested in seeing where her, her life takes her.

Working for, you know, the state in general is you can keep your benefits and maybe move on to another department, so, so encourage you to start expand that knowledge. You know, don’t, don’t pigeonhole yourself into one little department or subject. You can take it in so many different directions. And, um, hopefully in our conversations, um, with her, we’ve shown her that, you know, we have done that as well. You know, we think accounting, that it’s just accounting. Well, no, you can take it into procurement, you can take it into systems, you, there’s many different. Ways you can take that. So hopefully she got that out of it. Well, I just look forward to, you know, next year I’d like to possibly take on maybe two or three interns. Definitely want to, um, continue with the program and I think it was a huge success.

And I think having the different field trips, if you will, to different divisions definitely helped. I attended a few myself and learned quite a bit about the state that I wasn’t aware of, so I learned right along with her. So definitely a great experience.

[00:32:47] Jayson Heim: Great. That’s perfect. Well, thank you so much for doing this.

[00:32:50] Laurie Andre: Yeah.

[00:32:51] Becky Hapgood: Becky Hapgood from the town of China and we have a summer intern. This is our third intern,

[00:32:57] Jayson Heim: So the third intern, so yearly?

[00:32:59] Becky Hapgood: We’ve missed the year during Covid, but yes.

[00:33:02] Jayson Heim: Oh, okay.

[00:33:02] Becky Hapgood: So we’ve been trying to get more people involved in government ’cause there’s not enough young people.

[00:33:08] Jayson Heim: Yeah, definitely.

[00:33:08] Becky Hapgood: Going into the field of government.

[00:33:10] Jayson Heim: Yeah. So what’s your job title?

[00:33:11] Becky Hapgood: I am the town manager.

[00:33:13] Jayson Heim: Okay. So how many interns do you have this summer?

[00:33:15] Becky Hapgood: This time we only have one this summer.

[00:33:17] Jayson Heim: Okay. And what’s their main sort of role in?

[00:33:19] Becky Hapgood: Uh, they’re gonna gonna be doing economic and community development. So this is a second intern that’s doing that. We’ve also had another intern that did a big cemetery project for us and they’ve all been fabulous.

[00:33:30] Jayson Heim: Okay. That’s good to hear. Yeah, ’cause it’s a big opportunity for workforce development.

[00:33:35] Becky Hapgood: Yeah. I highly recommend the program.

[00:33:37] Jayson Heim: So are you originally from Maine or did you move here?

[00:33:39] Becky Hapgood: Grown up in China, Maine, so didn’t go very far.

[00:33:42] Jayson Heim: And what university did you attend?

[00:33:44] Becky Hapgood: So I went to Thomas College for business management and oh, look what I’m doing. Not quite business, but still government managements.

[00:33:51] Jayson Heim: Did you ever participate in an internship program when you were first starting out?

[00:33:54] Becky Hapgood: No, we didn’t have those opportunities available at the time. And I’m actually have tried to communicate with Thomas College to get them more involved because I think a good government program there, but, it ended up being during Covid, so we didn’t communicate much further-

[00:34:10] Jayson Heim: Yeah, definitely

[00:34:11] Becky Hapgood: move the program forward.

[00:34:12] Jayson Heim: Yeah. So how have you seen internship programs develop in the town of China?

[00:34:17] Becky Hapgood: I had learned of this program four or five years ago when I was the town clerk, and then once I became manager, this was something I wanted to pursue because again, we need more young people involved in municipal government. It’s just, it’s a dying breed. We need code officers, we need town managers, we need municipal employees, even public work.

So whatever you can do to pique somebody’s interest, that’s what we’re working on.

[00:34:45] Jayson Heim: Is there anything that you’re particularly excited about with working with an intern?

[00:34:49] Becky Hapgood: Just to have them enjoy municipal government as much as I do. I never thought I would enter this field, ever, and it’s been, it’s very rewarding to be able to give back to your community or any community. So that’s a good thing.

[00:35:03] Jayson Heim: All right. Thank you so much, that’s

[00:35:04] Becky Hapgood: good.

You’re welcome.

[00:35:05] Bailee Mallet: So my name is Bailee Mallet. My internship is for the town of China, Maine as the Economic and Community Development Specialist, and I’m going into my senior year at Thomas College.

[00:35:15] Jayson Heim: Great. So what do you do at your internship?

What are some of the projects you’re working on?

[00:35:18] Bailee Mallet: Yeah. For my internship, I’ve been focusing more on the community aspect. I’ve been helping with China Community Days, which is a community event they put on every year. So I’ve been helping the committee with that by making flyers, posters, reaching out to different people.

I’ve also been in the works of making a farmer’s market in town because there’s a lot of local farms that would like to sell their goods to boost the economy. So I’ve been working on that. I’ve also been looking and researching grants to help bring different things to the town. We’ve been looking for low income housing grants, also grants for a dog park, and then a pavilion to be installed in town too, so.

[00:36:00] Jayson Heim: Oh, great. So I didn’t get to talk to you at the kickoff event. So is the internship what you expected? Were there some surprising successes or challenges that you’ve encountered?

[00:36:08] Bailee Mallet: Um, it’s definitely not what I was thinking it would be. So for me, in my future, I want to go into policy and politics.

So getting an internship like this, it’s very mellow. So just getting the experience under my belt is like what I really wanted. So going into it, I didn’t have too many expectations. I think that the little expectations that I had, it has definitely met and then exceeded some. I really do enjoy it a lot, so it’s a great time.

[00:36:39] Jayson Heim: Great. That’s good. Thank you for talking to me. Yeah, of course. Thank you.

Yeah. Uh, so now that you’ve finished your internship, what would you say was your favorite part of it?

[00:36:45] Bailee Mallet: Um, my favorite part was getting to know the town of China. Um, I’m from Aroostok County, so I don’t really know many places down here. So, um, getting to know and experience what it’s like in other places, but are similar to where I’m from is great.

So I had a great time doing that.

[00:37:06] Jayson Heim: And, um, what was the most challenging part of your internship and how did you overcome it?

[00:37:11] Bailee Mallet: Um, the most challenging would be the setup of the office and, uh, where my office is I’m secluded, uh, from the rest of the people in the office. So I think how I overcame it was constantly going to see my supervisor instead of her coming to see me so I can interact with everyone else in the office.

[00:37:29] Jayson Heim: And, um, how was your experience working with your supervisor?

[00:37:32] Bailee Mallet: It was a great time. Um, my supervisor who’s very busy, she’s a town manager. Um, I didn’t really see her much, but she was a great person and a great personality, and I had a great time.

[00:37:42] Jayson Heim: So working full-time could be tiring, especially during the summer. Do you have any tips or advice for people entering internships that are, you know, full-time?

[00:37:48] Bailee Mallet: Yeah. Um, definitely time management, um, and planning out your day. Uh, what I did was I always planned out my week. Um, so, and then I planned out days based on my week. Um, so I would wake up, get ready, go to work, do what I was supposed to do at work and then spend some time for yourself.

So after work, I would go to the gym, I would read a book. I would do stuff like that to have myself some me time.

[00:38:16] Jayson Heim: Uh, and how are you gonna celebrate your internship graduation?

[00:38:19] Bailee Mallet: Um, I’m going to go home.

[00:38:21] Jayson Heim: Yeah. Go home and relax.

[00:38:22] Bailee Mallet: Yeah.

[00:38:23] Jayson Heim: For sure. Yeah. Um, and do you see your future being in what your internship was or do you see yourself moving in a different direction?

[00:38:29] Bailee Mallet: Um, I think in the future, if it comes down to it, I could definitely see myself doing that. Um, I do have bigger dreams than municipal government, but if it’s a possibility then it’s a possibility, we’ll just see how it goes. Yeah.

[00:38:43] Jayson Heim: Great. Thank you so much.

[00:38:43] Bailee Mallet: Thank you.

[00:38:44] Jayson Heim: And congratulations.

[00:38:46] Jilleon Farrell: So, my name’s Jilleon Farrell

I go to University of Maine in Orono and I’m working with Matthew Vaughan as a Resource Administrator for the Department of Education.

[00:38:54] Jayson Heim: Nice. And, um, what are you gonna school for and what’s your uh, year?

[00:38:58] Jilleon Farrell: I’m in graduate school for human nutrition.

[00:39:00] Jayson Heim: So is the internship sort of what you expected? Uh, ’cause we didn’t get to talk at the kickoff event.

Uh, so going into it, was it what you expected? Did you have any surprising successes or challenges?

[00:39:11] Jilleon Farrell: It was about what I expected. Yeah. So when I applied for it, they gave like a description of what it was gonna be. And basically what I went in thinking it was gonna be is just like updating systems working on like organizing.

[00:39:21] Jayson Heim: Yeah.

[00:39:22] Jilleon Farrell: Stuff that he works on as a whole, which is basically what I do. I work in a lot of like FJAs employee handbook, just a lot of organizing, making things easier for the people who work there.

[00:39:30] Jayson Heim: Great. Uh, so is this your first internship or did you have ones before?

[00:39:33] Jilleon Farrell: Yes, this is my first internship.

[00:39:35] Jayson Heim: Oh, okay. Awesome. Uh, do you plan on doing anymore or I imagine you’re trying to get into the field after you finish your grad studies.

[00:39:41] Jilleon Farrell: Yeah, so I, in graduate school I have like an internship program that lasts like nine months and it’s like shadowing different people, like registered dieticians. So that’s gonna be my next one.

[00:39:50] Jayson Heim: Oh, awesome.

[00:39:50] Jilleon Farrell: And then after that, that’s all I have planned for internships.

[00:39:53] Jayson Heim: All right. Sounds good. Well, thank you for talking to me.

[00:39:55] Jilleon Farrell: Yeah, of course. Thank you.

[00:39:56] Nicole LeBlanc: So now that you’ve finished your internship, uh, what would you say was your favorite part of it?

[00:40:01] Jilleon Farrell: I think mostly just like the experiences I got from it. So I got to be exposed to not only like my job, but my supervisor also exposed me to something else. I worked with Child Nutrition, I just went on like a school review, probably my favorite part.

[00:40:12] Nicole LeBlanc: Alright. Um, what was the most challenging part of your internship and how would you say you overcame it?

[00:40:18] Jilleon Farrell: So I worked on like a specific project, like comparing like an FJA to like two different job descriptions almost. It was a little difficult only ’cause I didn’t understand like what either of the things were. So it was kind of objective to like what I thought it fit be-with best with.

[00:40:31] Nicole LeBlanc: How was your experience working with your supervisor?

[00:40:33] Jilleon Farrell: It was good. I really liked Matt.

I really liked working with him and whenever I had a question or needed help, he was always there to answer my question.

[00:40:41] Nicole LeBlanc: Working full-time can be tiring. Um, do you have any tips or advice for people entering internships?

[00:40:46] Jilleon Farrell: So I did a remote, which was kind of honestly nice only because it’s a, much easier to manage your time when you’re working from home ’cause like I live like maybe like 10 minutes away. So like when you think about 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back, 20 minutes a day like adds up. So I didn’t find it too difficult to manage my time.

[00:41:01] Nicole LeBlanc: How was it working with the state or local government and did this change where you see your future career being?

[00:41:06] Jilleon Farrell: Yeah, so I actually didn’t know, ’cause what I did for an internship has not like a lot to do with what my major is. So I like through my internship, learned that there is something for registered dieticians through the DOE, which I thought was pretty interesting.

[00:41:18] Nicole LeBlanc: How are you going to celebrate your internship graduation?

[00:41:21] Jilleon Farrell: Go back to school soon. So that’s about it.

[00:41:24] Nicole LeBlanc: All right. Well thank you so much-

[00:41:26] Jilleon Farrell: Of course.

[00:41:26] Nicole LeBlanc: For your time course. Appreciate it.

[00:41:28] Jayson Heim: So how was your advising or supervising experience? Because I know, uh, this was your first time participating in the program, so how did that, how was the overall experience?

[00:41:38] Matthew Vaughan: So the overall experience was great.

So we’re in a, uh, a remote situation, uh, which I’ve been in management for quite some time, not recently, but you know, about 15 years of retail. And I had just about a year and a half over at the, uh, Bureau of Motor Vehicles. So the remote aspect was, uh, was new to me and it was great. You know, it, it’s my, my intern did a phenomenal job. She kept on task. Um, you know, when we started out, you know, I was, I was pretty close in checking in multiple times a day just to make sure everything was good, she had any questions. And as that relationship built, um, you know, it was, you know, once a day or once every other few days, and constant communication and, and, uh, just open door policy through Teams really, really made it, uh, successful.

So I, it, it went well for me.

[00:42:33] Jayson Heim: That’s good to hear. Uh, did you have a favorite part of working with your intern or a favorite project that you worked on together?

[00:42:39] Matthew Vaughan: So she worked on quite a few projects and a lot of them, uh, you know, her focus was definitely not in the administrative aspect. So there was, uh, you know, a good learning curve for her, and she did absolutely fantastic, uh, with her tasks and, uh, and, and each and every one of ’em, I was, uh, absolutely amazed in her abilities. You know, we, we set forth in the beginning of it, we discussed what the overall objective was, how it needed to look, and she went above and beyond. She took those projects and, and not only did she, um, capture what we were looking for, she actually improved on, on what our initial vision was for those, those projects.

So all of the projects you worked on were, were great.

[00:43:24] Jayson Heim: That’s good. So it must have been a bit of an adjustment having an intern, you know, being the first time in the program. So how were you adjusting to not having an intern anymore? So you’ve had a full summer of having an intern and now you’re sort of back on your own, I guess. So how, how does that transition work? It

[00:43:40] Matthew Vaughan: feels fine. It feels great. And she did a lot of great work, um, that helped us kind of, uh, jumpstart some initiatives that we wanted, uh, to get started that, you know, were, were very difficult. I’m, I’m new in my position, there’s a lot of processes and things that we’re working on, uh, over here at the Department of Education, so she really took a good part of that initiative.

And, and really jumpstart it for us. So now going forward, it’s not going to take as much to build those initiatives now that she started that. So I’m just gonna pick it up and, and move and run with them.

[00:44:15] Jayson Heim: So sort of at the events, and I, I think in general there’s a lot of discussion of interns, learning from their supervisors, but is there anything that you learned, sort of from your intern?

[00:44:24] Matthew Vaughan: You know, I learned a lot, you know, and, and that was probably one of my favorite things and, and I really do like supervision supervising. Um, you know, you get to, you, you get a team that you get to know, you get to know their passions, what they like to do. But probably the biggest thing that I learned through this was just that whole supervisory aspect through remote, which was mostly Teams and email.

So, um, you know, I learned a lot about that. And, uh, you know, the, the challenges with keeping in contact, it’s not someone you see in the office every day. That was probably the biggest thing I learned from this.

[00:44:55] Jayson Heim: Alright, and, uh, do you have any sort of advice for interns, about, I guess like the application process or why they should do an internship?

[00:45:03] Matthew Vaughan: So with the application process and, and the little, little part that I know about, kind of what that front end look like, um, I would recommend knowing what your passions are. What you foresee yourself doing in the future and reading through those job descriptions that are made available. Um, when getting prepared for the internships. Um, if you don’t see one that matches your vision for the future, just try something that gets you out of your, your comfort zone.

Um, you might be surprised with the experience and the connections you make during your summer.

[00:45:32] Chappy Hall: Yeah, I’m Chappy Hall and I was a intern with Maine Department of Transportation’s Office of Creative Services, uh, and I was conducting a historic research project on the history of Maine Transportation.

[00:45:44] Nicole LeBlanc: All right. Now that you’ve finished your internship, what would you say was your favorite part?

[00:45:48] Chappy Hall: Um, I really enjoyed, um, having an opportunity to conduct historical research. And also, um, working with people in my office who were really supportive and I got to experience a lot of different things. I got to go on a drone flag, I got to work on social media, um, and just kind of doing a lot of different projects, um, and kind of things and learning about what creative services does.

[00:46:09] Nicole LeBlanc: What was the most challenging part of your internship and how would you say you overcame it?

[00:46:12] Chappy Hall: Uh, I’d say the, probably the most challenging part is it’s a, it’s a big time commitment during your summer or you don’t have a lot of summer.

Um, and so just kind of find that balance. Um, And, um, just kind of knowing how to handle that. Um, and, uh, it’s not, it’s not that bad, but yeah, it’s a, it’s a transition if you aren’t used to working eight hours, forty hours a week during the summer. Yeah.

[00:46:37] Nicole LeBlanc: How was your experience working with your supervisor?

[00:46:39] Chappy Hall: It was great. Uh, my supervisor was super supportive, um, because I was kind of the expert on my topic. Uh, I was kind of left to drive the ship on my project, um, and was super supportive and, uh, if I needed anything was always there along the way.

[00:46:54] Nicole LeBlanc: Uh, working full-time can be tiring. Do you have any tips or advice for people entering in internships?

[00:46:59] Chappy Hall: Um, protect your time, um, like actually take a lunch break, like, have lunch with your coworkers and like, don’t like turn off and you go home like don’t think about work or like find other things. Um, and you just really make sure you have clue deliniations um, between don’t let work, eat up your personal, your personal life.

[00:47:21] Nicole LeBlanc: How is it working with state or local government and did this change what you see, your future being potential?

[00:47:26] Chappy Hall: Uh, yeah, it was an enjoyable experience. Um, it was, it was interesting to kind of, as someone who wasn’t very familiar with the Department of Transportation, get to kind of see you on the inside.

Um, but I don’t think it’s really changed, uh, my plans as of now.

[00:47:38] Nicole LeBlanc: All right. And how are you gonna celebrate your internship graduation?

[00:47:42] Chappy Hall: Uh, I’m probably gonna get home and sleep, uh, and, uh, get ready for school because that’s, um, like a week and a half, so.

[00:47:49] Nicole LeBlanc: All right. Thank you so much.

[00:47:50] Chappy Hall: Yeah, no problem.

[00:47:57] Eric Miller: And with that, we conclude today’s episode. We really appreciate everyone who chatted with us and thank you listener for joining us. I’m Eric Miller, and I’ll see you next time on Maine Policy Matters, where we will be having a panel discussion with Ali Abedi, Salimeh Sekeh, and Peter Shilling about navigating artificial intelligence in research and education.

Our team is made up of Barbara Harrity and Joyce Rumery, co-editors of Maine Policy Review. Jonathan Rubin directs the Policy Center. Thanks to faculty associate Katie Swacha, Professional Writing Consultant, Maine Policy Matters intern Nicole Leblanc, and podcast producer and writer Jayson Heim. Our website can be found in the description of this episode along with all materials referenced in this episode, a full transcript and social media links.

Remember to follow the Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center on Facebook, Instagram, and Threads, and drop us a direct message to express your support, provide feedback, or let us know what Maine policy matters to you.

Check out mcslibrary.org to learn more about Margaret Chase Smith, the Library and museum, and education and public policy.