Our graduate policy intern, Eric Naing, offers a few farewell words. We will miss him.
My time as the graduate policy intern at the Sunlight Foundation is at an end and I can’t stress enough how much I’ve learned and how much I will miss it.
When I first started working here, I was an aspiring journalist with an interest in government and politics. Several months later, I can say that I am not only leaving Sunlight knowing far more about government and transparency than I expected to learn, but I also have a broader understanding of issues that I didn’t have much experience with such as grassroots organizing, government data, and even web development.
Working with John Wonderlich, Daniel Schuman, Lisa Rosenberg, Alexis Rudakewych on the Sunlight policy team has been wonderful. Their mentoring and the institutional knowledge of government that they shared has been invaluable. And enough really can’t be said about the importance of working with highly motivated and knowledgeable people like them.
I would highly recommend this internship to anyone interested. The work I did was always substantive and challenging. For example, evaluating Open Government Plans allowed me to cast a critical eye on federal agencies and learn how they operate and are structured. Cataloging bills related to earmarks, lobbying, and transparency allowed me to better understand how to track legislation and left me with the skills to ably navigate THOMAS. Researching material for and attending Transparency Caucus events allowed me to learn more about things like Congressional Research Service Reports and provided me with a first-hand view of how congressional committees work. Even doing simple things like tracking transparency news has given me new insights to issues I never followed before such as government oversight, web development, federal agency news, and the broader government transparency movement.
Beyond the policy department, I also have to thank everyone else at Sunlight. The organizing and communication teams showed me the nuts and bolts of grassroots organizing and how to work with the press. Sunlight Labs introduced me to a previously unknown world of technology and showed me how it can be used to organize and educate. The Reporting Group showed me the importance of keeping the government accountable, particularly on the most basic and overlooked levels. All these people and the others at Sunlight have been exceedingly helpful and kind to me in my time here. It’s been an honor to work with them and I’ll miss them all.
One final thing that’s worth noting is that I leave Sunlight with a stronger and clearer belief in the importance of transparency in government – a concept that bridges ideological divides. Regardless of what you do or who you are, anyone should appreciate having better access to government data and having a better understanding of what your government is doing. Though achieving these goals requires a constant struggle fraught with compromise and disappointment, they are absolutely worth fighting for.