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Public-Private Internship Initiative

November 13, 2014

By Jackie Ogburn

Many public policy professionals move back and forth between jobs in the public and private sectors during the course of their careers. This past summer, five public policy majors had internships that combined both sectors through a pilot program developed by the Sanford Office of Career Services. 

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  • Kelsey Sturman PPS’15 stands in front of the U.S. Capitol

    Kelsey Sturman PPS’15 stands in front of the U.S. Capitol on the first day of her internship with the office of Sen. Bill Nelson.

The five were selected through a competitive process, and were all placed in Washington, D.C., organizations. There were two different models of internships, one in which the student worked on public and private issues at a company, and one in which the student spent six weeks each with a private and public employer.

Chelsea Decaminada worked at VOX Global, a public affairs and strategic communications firm, while Julia Durnan and Annabel Wang were at Nueva Vista Group, a lobbying and government relations firm. Rachel Gress worked at SAP, a software firm, and at the Federal Trade Commission.

Kelsey Sturman PPS ’15 began her summer with the office of Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida and then moved to SAP. 

“I appreciated being in the Senate office first, learning about how it worked and how hearings go. It was helpful to my work at SAP and there was a lot of crossover in issues, such as high-speed trading, cybersecurity and patents,” she said.

“It was a cool dynamic to work in both sectors and to see how they each shaped policy. It’s been one of the best things I’ve done at Duke and changed my mind about working in D.C.,” said Sturman. 

The interns met several times during the process, including a dinner with Elise Goldwasser, senior internship director, after the annual Sanford on the Hill reception in July and again at the beginning of the fall semester back at Sanford. Their views on their experience were very positive. 

“This summer’s success shows that students are eager to make connections between work in the private and public sectors and understand how the two sectors cooperate rather than compete. Today and in the future, difficult problems will be solved through these kinds of partnerships. Neither can do it alone,” said Goldwasser.