Finding future public service leaders: Perspectives from an intern
In an effort to bring a new generation of diverse young talent into government, the Partnership for Public Service launched the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program. The program places students in paid summer internships at the departments of Commerce or Transportation or the General Services Administration.
Gianna Juarez participated in the program this past summer as a public policy intern at the Department of Commerce. She enjoyed her experience so much that she recently accepted a full-time job as a staff assistant for leadership development and appointee engagement at the White House, helping vet and onboard political appointees. Below, she describes her experience as a Future Leaders in Public Service intern.
What was your role as an intern at the Department of Commerce?
I worked in the Office of the White House Liaison, which onboards political appointees and places them within the different offices and bureaus that fall under Commerce. For me, that looked like attending daily meetings to discuss potential candidates, managing security clearance processes, writing daily memos, tracking data and facilitating the internship program.
I also wrote memos to brief Secretary Gina Raimondo on upcoming interviews she had with potential appointees. I was also able to interview applicants and screen applications for the fall 2022 intern cohort at Commerce. That was something I felt passionate about, as I was able to select a group of individuals who represent the diversity of America and are enthusiastic about public service.
What surprised you about working in the federal government?
I was surprised that the work environment is so wonderfully collaborative. Because you’re surrounded by individuals who are so like-minded and passionate about creating change for the public, you feel a sense of community and an increased motivation to keep fighting for your ideas and beliefs.
As a first-generation college student from an immigrant family, it was beautiful to see that the individuals who work in government are so kind-hearted and bring so many different perspectives to their work.
Q: What networking and professional development opportunities did the internship program offer?
I was able to meet so many wonderful friends and connections. I met someone during a networking event who went to my university—who was in my same major and same year—and now she and I are close friends. We have the same career trajectories, and I know one day I’ll work with her again. These networking opportunities really do help broaden your knowledge on how to get to where you want to go.
Q: Why would you recommend the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program to others?
The connections I made along the way have been so important, not only because they have helped me know where I want to go in the future, but also because they have instilled a sense of confidence that I deserve to be here. I’m surrounded by such kind people who want to help me figure out what I’m good at, and I’m so grateful to say that I will be continuing my time in the federal government and in public service.
Learn more about the Future Leaders in Public Service Internship Program. Applications to join the summer 2023 cohort are open now.
This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
Rachel Lin is an intern on the Partnership’s Communications team.