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Podcast: Building a Successful Internship Program with Pat Madej and Molly Gaskin

Posted on October 9, 2020


Pat MadejMolly Gaskin
Pat Madej
Senior Budget & Management Analyst
City of Durham, NC
LinkedIn | Twitter
Molly Gaskin
Graduate MPA Student, UNC
Intern, City of Durham, NC
LinkedIn | Twitter

Creating meaningful experience. Pat Madej, Senior Budget & Management Analyst for the City of Durham, NC, and Molly Gaskin, Graduate MPA Student at the University of North Carolina, joined the podcast to talk about the City of Durham’s internship program. Pat discussed how the Budget Department established its internship program. Molly shared what it was like to be an intern during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also discussed the project Molly worked on this summer which added a performance measurement and equity lens to evaluating budget requests.

Host: Kirsten Wyatt

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Learn More

City of Durham Budget & Management Services Website

Q&A with CURS Student Research Assistant Molly Gaskin

 


Episode Transcript

Message

This is Brian Murphy ELGL’s Data Manager. The ELGL Diversity Dashboard is the first national data collection on the gender, race and age of local government leadership. We’re excited to launch our third full year of data collection. This year, we’re expanding our collection to include all levels of local government positions, not just Chief Administrative Officers. In an effort to get a better understanding of diversity across a wider variety of local government positions, this year’s survey is looking for responses from local government leaders working in many different positions. We look forward to hearing from department heads, project managers, analysts and others as we hope to get data on the diversity of local government leadership. You can find more information on the survey and a link to respond at elgl.org/diversity-dashboard. We hope you’ll respond and follow the data as we work to make local government more diverse.

Kirsten Wyatt

Coming to you from Portland, Oregon, this is GovLove, a podcast about local government. GovLove is produced by ELGL, the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. We engage the brightest minds in local government. I’m Kirsten Wyatt, the ELGL co-founder and executive director and today I’m joined by Pat Madej and Molly Gaskin with the City of Durham, North Carolina. Welcome to GovLove.

Pat Madej

Thanks. So awesome to be here.

Molly Gaskin

Yeah, thanks for having us.

Kirsten Wyatt

Today, we’re talking about how to create a meaningful and impactful local government internship, and also about a budget request evaluation model created by Pat and Molly that looked at how departments evoked equity. But first, we’ll get started with a lightning round. So Pat, you’re up first on this one. What is your most controversial non-political opinion?

Pat Madej

So I’m going to tie in another question that you ask sometimes on GovLove when you’re when you’re asking people what’s their favorite font? My controversial opinion, is that Comic Sans is totally fine. And I think people get a little bit too amped up over it. Am I gonna write an email to someone important with it? No, but like, overall, it’s an okay font. I’m cool with it.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wow, that’s bold. I mean, I feel like a lot of people are cringing right now as they listen to this episode. So way to start us off on a good note. [Laughter] And Molly, what about you? What’s your most controversial non-political opinion? Mine’s a little more.

Molly Gaskin

Mine’s a little more, you know, in this moment, I think muting is one of the worst things about video conferencing. Because I think it really inhibits discussion.

Kirsten Wyatt

Interesting. What about when you’re on like a, you know, like a 50 person class or something like that? Should everyone still be unmuted?

Molly Gaskin

You know, I think it’s unfortunately necessary. But, you know, with discussion, it is so easy to hide behind. And it’s really intimidating to unmute yourself sometimes. So I’m just, I’m gonna stick to that.

Kirsten Wyatt

No, that’s great. And I appreciate that. I haven’t thought about it. But. But now that you mentioned it, it does make sense. All right. So Molly, you can go first on this one. What did you want to be when you grew up when you were 10 years old?

Molly Gaskin

You know, I never really picked one particular thing. I remember people would ask me if I wanted to be a doctor or something. And I would always say no. Never picked just one thing. I did put on lots of shows, with my cousin’s so maybe I wanted to be an actor, but I don’t think I ever said I’m going to be an actor.

Kirsten Wyatt

And what about you, Pat?

Pat Madej

For me, I wanted to be a comic book writer. And then, you know, I like you know, drew a lot and like, kind of created a lot of stuff and then got to probably middle school and realized I have no artistic talent whatsoever. So that kind of went by the wayside.

Kirsten Wyatt

[Laughter] Maybe you could become one of those local government like graphic facilitators. I mean, you don’t have to be like a total pro drawer, but you could incorporate your two loves.

Pat Madej

We’ll see we’ll see.

Kirsten Wyatt

All right. And last lightning round question. What is the best breakfast food? And Pat, you can start us off.

Pat Madej

I think as a New Yorker, I’ve just got to go bacon, egg and cheese on an everything. I think it’s you can’t beat it.

Kirsten Wyatt

Have you had the everything bagel spice that you can buy?

Pat Madej

From Trader Joe’s, yeah, it’s pretty good. Yeah, the bagels in North Carolina are definitely lacking. But yeah, I don’t I don’t think there’s any breakfast that beats that.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Molly, what about you?

Molly Gaskin Eggs. I think eggs are the best breakfast food because you can make them in so many different ways. And they even transcend breakfast. You can have them for lunch and dinner too.

Kirsten Wyatt

Great point. All right. So let’s first talk about your career paths and how you got to where you are today. Molly, why don’t you get us started and tell us more about yourself and about your professional academic background.

Molly Gaskin

Sure. I graduated from undergrad from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a degree in Environmental Science, and that introduced me to kind of human issues. I had always been, you know, a more technical person. But hearing about, you know, the wicked problems and the ways that they intersect with people’s lives, really inspired me and got me into, into public service. And that led me into the MPA at UNC to, UNC has this dual degree with the environmental science program. So you can take some classes in the MPA while you’re still an undergrad, and then have a little more freedom to explore during your time in the MPA.

Kirsten Wyatt

And, Pat, tell us more about your, your career path to the City of Durham.

Pat Madej

Sure. For me, my kind of love of government started at the end of undergrad. I just kind of stayed around in the area up in Binghamton, New York and got to know the community and knew that, you know, whatever level of government I’m at the community aspect of it was really important to me. And I kind of got into that through an internship at a local TV station. And right out of undergrad got a gig with AmeriCorps. So I was working with a school with a really low graduation rate and trying to connect students to local government resources and university resources and things like that. From there I moved to North Carolina for the MPA and since then, I’ve done some program evaluation work at the state. And luckily, in the last couple of years, I’ve got back to my true love, local government, as a budget analyst at the City of Durham.

Kirsten Wyatt

And the reason we wanted to have you both on today’s episode is because I think all of us at ELGL believe that providing a meaningful work experience, or internship is really the most impactful thing that local government can do to give students a really meaningful and realistic view of local government careers. And so the time and the energy that you have put into the City of Durham’s program, is something that we’re hopeful that our listeners will emulate and learn from and that we’ll continue to have these discussions about how do you create a really meaningful internship opportunity. But why don’t you take us back to the start, Pat, about when you started putting together this internship program for Molly.

Pat Madej

Sure. And I, you know, have to give a lot of credit to the UNC MPA program, because they have a fantastic professional work experience setup that I think, you know, it’d be great if every MPA program did this. But they’re very intentional about setting students up in environments where they not only get the experience, but they’re during the experience thinking of how to fold it back into their education and their degree. Like students have to write a paper and, uh, you know, put together some stuff in their portfolio, tying what they did in the real world to the theory and all that stuff. So that’s cool. And I have to credit the internship experiences I had as a student, because I got to see some of the really great things about those and how they opened they opened my eyes to what it’s like working in local government. So you know, took some of the elements of those and always trying to think about how to make the experience a win for everybody when designing it’s important. So with this particular internship program, I started it last year with ELGL’s own Ben Kittelson. We had some project ideas and pitched it. Luckily made it happen. So this was our second year now. But really, it you know, it came from having some project ideas that we thought would be great experience for student, while you know, we also got the experience of getting to be a mentor and you know, pull students out of the theory and out of the classroom and into the context of what it’s like out there and, you know, get the opportunity to learn what you can’t really learn in a book. So that’s kind of the heart of it and what we’re trying to do.

Kirsten Wyatt

And I’ve, I’ve had people tell me from time to time, you know, I’d love to do an internship, but my organization doesn’t support it, or my boss doesn’t want to deal with it. Did you face any of those challenges when you were getting things started? Or I mean, and I’m guessing that just given the caliber of, of rock stars that work for the City of Durham, maybe not, but then any generalized advice for someone that’s listening and set is in that situation where they don’t have that support, to to run an internship program?

Pat Madej

Yeah, and I think anybody who’s looking to start, one should start from a place of like thinking about how you can justify the need for an internship and think of how you can justify gaining that support. When we started it, we knew that you know, we were going to have to pitch it and it’s a resource not only if you’re paying your intern, but it’s a time resource for everybody involved. You know, you’ve got to get those signatures, get that approval, and, you know, you’ve got to put the time in to supervise the candidate you’re getting and things like that. So we put a lot of time in upfront, brainstorming, not only projects for the department, like needs that we had, and things like that, but also what learning experiences we could offer. And we really approach it from that lens of how it’s a win for everybody. So I think maybe pitching to a supervisor, it’s important to, you know, be like, what’s the benefit for the organization? But, you know, we were thinking, how do you go beyond that, and make it a win for everybody. So I’d go in, kind of, with that thought, come up with some concrete ideas for things, you know, that are achievable in whatever timeframe you’ve got, that are a benefit to everybody, and, you know, just kind of enrich everyone involved when possible.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Molly heading into this internship, what were your expectations, or, you know, what were you most looking forward to, as it related to working as part of this program with the City of Durham?

Molly Gaskin

I was really excited to work for the city. Pat mentioned, having, you know, a lot of concrete projects to work on. And that was something that was important to me, when looking at different internships for my professional work experience, because I wanted to have the opportunity to kind of take that, take something from start to finish, you know, get to participate in the design of a project, things like that. My expectations about what the observation would be like, had to change a little bit because we did shift to virtual, and that was definitely not something that I think any anyone expected.

Kirsten Wyatt

And talk to us about that. You know, what, what did that look like and feel like? And how did you, how did you continue to have an internship or to supervise an intern during this time of social distancing and working from home?

Pat Madej

Yeah, and, you know, I just talked about kind of coming up with ideas and pitching your ideas for an internship. And with the advent of COVID, just coming up in the middle of the spring like that, you know, we essentially had to re-pitch our program. You know, we’d already kind of done our interviews and hired a candidate, had a whole plan for the summer. You know, we had a whole setup with projects in place, and we had plans for, you know, our candidate to be able to do ride alongs, and go toward department facilities and things like that. And that all pretty quickly got thrown out the window. So that was really interesting, just kind of getting back into that brainstorming mode and being like, okay, you know, we know we’re going to be working remotely for a while. How can we still take this experience and make it meaningful, and take some of those elements we could have done in person and translate them to a more virtual format. So it was it was pretty interesting. A lot, you know, everybody out there right now is using Zoom or Microsoft Teams. So it’s easier than ever to just hop on a video chat and share your screen and share work and things like that. So the projects themselves were definitely pretty easy. I think what was a little bit harder, and you know, something to think about, and if anyone out there has ideas, let me know, but kind of pulling a new employee or intern into that organizational culture became a lot tougher. You can’t really just like bring someone down the hall and knock on people’s doors or run into people in the hallway, and things like that. So I think that was kind of the the biggest thing that we lost in the shift.

Molly Gaskin

I will say you all did a good job of kind of creating spaces for me to get to know people, though. They had a Zoom meeting where I met, you know, just the budget staff kind of before I went to a full department staff meeting, and that was really nice. And then towards the end of the internship, we started having these day to day meetings, just to kind of check in with the whole team and I got to hear, hear a lot about just what everyone’s day to day was like. So that was really helpful. And something that we kind of picked up as we went.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, but there is that element of it’s not like, you know, Pat could take you out to lunch a couple days a week, or, you know, you could do like the happy hours or, you know, all of the other fun stuff, you know, that might that might go into an in person interview or in person internship. And so, you know, I really commend you for finding ways, you know, to get Molly engaged, even if it was, you know, less, I guess, personalized, you know, than it normally would have been, or it’s been in years past. So I think that’s important, and I hope our listeners, you know, kind of take that to heart if this continues, and they’re looking at still bringing on an intern.

Pat Madej

Yeah. And that’s something that I would pose is on you as the supervisor to be conscious of that and you know. This year, I co-supervise Molly with Christina Reardon, she’s another member of the budget staff. And we made sure that we were available. And yeah, we couldn’t do the lunches or the happy hours and things like that. But we made sure you know, we’ve got this, you know, not like a literal door, but we’ve got this virtual open door policy, come talk to us whenever you need, you know, we’re here as a resource for you. And even though it’s not in person, you know, we still want to kind of offer you that. And I think that’s an important thing for internships in general. Because you’re the one that’s able to provide that context to this, you know, new employee who’s just kind of like sitting in on meetings and things like that, and you might not know kind of the, you know, deeper things going on in the organization, and the whys of certain meetings are happening, things like that.

Kirsten Wyatt

And then a quick question for you about applications and assessment of applicants. You know, obviously, there’s the benefit, you know, you are graduate of the UNC program, you know, the curriculum, you know, that that Molly was taking part in. If you hadn’t had that kind of, you know, understanding that she was going to bring a certain amount of skill or ability to the internship, did you have anything built into your application process, any sort of assessment tools, tests, that type of thing, to ensure that your applicants were ready to walk in the door and get to work?

Pat Madej

That’s a really good question. And it’s tough when you’re kind of going for that internship level, because you’ve got a pool of really bright people who are, you know, they’ve got that public service motivation, and they’re wanting to, particularly in our program, get into that local government world. Our process is fairly basic. And I think, for us, in a budget office, in particular, we’re looking to gauge whether people are okay with those kind of high pressure, high stress environments. And when it comes to the technical skills, in our case, our projects, you know, you could get through them with Excel for the most part. And, you know, we, we are pretty big into Power BI in the city, which we’re just kind of like, you know, I don’t know, if you’ve talked about it much on GovLove, but you know, you can, you can create a lot of cool data visualizations and do some much heavier analysis and things like that. So we kind of offered the opportunity to learn some of that more advanced stuff. But for us, it was like if you came in with a fairly basic grasp of Excel, and you can learn pivot tables and things like that along the way. That’s cool with us. And you know, I think for us, we’re looking for someone that’s willing to learn and willing to pick that stuff up and roll with it. I don’t think any intern is going to come in, you know, being able to like ace any really complicated budget stuff, if they’ve only been in a program for a little bit.

Kirsten Wyatt

And now that you’ve had, you know, almost this full summer, you know, having an internship during the time of COVID, what are some reflections back on what worked well, and then what might need tweaking going forward with the program?

Molly Gaskin

Sure. Um, I think having, you know, project based internship, like this did work really well, you know, because you have less exposure to the day to day. You know, I think, as Pat mentioned, it’s really hard to integrate new people into the office culture, but the getting the inside scoop from Pat, and Christina was helpful for kind of bridging that gap. And I think, you know, personally, I was thinking back and probably could have done more on my own part to find additional people to talk to and kind of reach out and use that position to get in contact with other people working in the city. I did that a little bit. But I think, upon reflection, there’s a little more, you know, responsibility on yourself to, to kind of use what you have, and say, hey, I’m interested in this. Let me try to talk to someone, let me see who can connect me with this person?

Pat Madej

Pat Yeah, and another thing that I’ll add is, I guess, you know, one of the success stories we found is, you know, we went into it and we were kind of like, you know, we’ll see how it goes. It’s going to be a learning process along the whole way. And we were really happy that by the time it wrapped up, we kind of had achieved that goal that I kind of mentioned earlier about it being a win for everybody. We got some really great work products out of the internship, Molly got some great experience and got to learn about local government. And I think we kind of, you know, on a higher level, prove that you can do this sort of thing virtually. And you know, like anything new, it’s going to be a learning process. But along the way, you get those successes and you get the things that could have been done better and you just move on and tweak as you go. And I think you know, some of that important stuff I mentioned, like being a mentor and being a resource. Another piece of it, I think, showing your intern kind of how what they’re doing, even if it’s something like data entry, like how it folds into a bigger project and a bigger purpose, that can still be done, you know, you like I said, you can share screens, you can have meetings, you can, you know, still pull each other into what you’re doing, and, you know, convey that why behind the projects.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and way back when, when I was doing my UNC internship, what was built into my internship was the expectation that I would spend an hour with every department head in the city. And so the responsibility was, like the time management was on me to find a way to make all of those meetings happen over the course of the summer, but it was that kind of like that broader exposure to all of the functions of local government, even though some of my projects were more specific to certain departments. So I think that’s just another way that sometimes you can structure these opportunities, either virtually or live, to give that breadth of experience and of exposure. So Molly, reflecting on everything that you did this summer, what are some of the skills or the software programs or the just kind of core functionalities that you think that someone listening who’s in an MPA program are thinking about an MPA program should ensure that they have if they want to go on the path of becoming a local government analyst?

Molly Gaskin

Yeah, well, Pat mentioned Excel and Power BI, and I think that is 100% right. You don’t have to be a whiz at it. You will learn on the job. But I think those that particular software is going to be really useful, you know, even if it is just for data entry, knowing how to how to do it properly, really important. And then there are so many fun things that you can do with it. I’m kind of a nerd for Excel.

Kirsten Wyatt

Join the club. We are with ya. [Laughter]

Molly Gaskin

So it was really great to be able to use, you know, my prior knowledge of Excel and really actively use it to kind of design the project.

Kirsten Wyatt

And Pat, reflecting back on your own internship experiences, what has changed from, you know, back when you were an intern? What skills do you think interns should be prepared to bring to the table nowadays?

Pat Madej

Yeah, I think part of it depends on where you’re going, because I had the opportunity to intern in a couple of different places. So I interned in a manager’s office, as well as the public works department and kind of one environment felt like I was doing a lot more kind of high level stuff. And the other, the public works department was a lot more technical, where I was diving into that Excel and, you know, doing sheets feeding into other sheets and things like that. So I think, you know, it depends on where you’re going to land and what kind of experience you’re looking to get. I think the most important thing is just that willingness to learn. That willingness to ask questions, and, you know, take a project idea and take it to the next level, if you can.

Kirsten Wyatt

And let’s shift gears and talk about your budget evaluation model that you piloted. Can you tell us more about the model and how it was used?

Pat Madej

Pat Yeah, and I can give a little bit of background and then Molly, you can talk about the, the actual work and that kind of stuff. But, you know, in the City of Durham, we’re always trying to kind of take budgeting beyond just your typical budget work. And you know, getting beyond the numbers, we do a lot of work with performance management. And, you know, we’re trying to be innovative all the time. So we look at our budget request form. And this is when departments during the budget process, they’re asking for new stuff they want. We built in some questions to try to collect more information beyond just that simple, what are you asking for and why? So for instance, we ask about how their performance measures that they have tie to the requests they’re asking for. So ideally, you know, they’re, they’re sharing some data on why they need what they need. And ideally, you know, how this request is going to help them and how it’s going to change their projections and things like that. And this year, we, you know, in the interest of kind of promoting equity, we added some questions in, that didn’t necessarily use the word equity, but we put them together to kind of just give the opportunity for departments if they were thinking about equity to kind of talk about it a little bit. And we’re going to talk about this a little bit more in a post we’re writing on the side. But essentially, we you know, beyond that normal information we collect we were able to get some descriptions of some of this other stuff and that was kind of the you know Molly’s flagship project this summer was to go through. So we got 90 of these budget requests across our 20 something departments. And, you know, Molly went through these forms and, you know, took this information and synthesized it for us. So we could get some findings from it and kind of use it to build on some of the equity work we’re going to be doing next year.

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s great. And Molly, do you want to share with us more about kind of that, that work synthesizing, that feedback, and kind of the mechanics of how of how the requests were used?

Molly Gaskin

Yeah, absolutely. Um, so Pat mentioned, we had kind of two major themes, I guess, in this evaluation. One is equity. And the other was performance measures. So I’ll start with the performance measures, because that’s a little more straightforward. I read a couple of the request forms. And to get a sense of, you know, what kinds of things do people say, in these requests, and put together a scale to say how well did this request use performance measures? And how well did they justify what they needed? Were they relating it to the measures that we have, you know, on file, what do we collect data on? And, you know, I consulted with the performance management specialist to kind of see is this, is this what you think of when you’re looking at performance measures? What is the goal here, and she helped me workshop it. And ultimately, I used this scale it, you know, ranking the responses on the request from level zero to five, with level five being that, you know, they use the measure, they explain it, the measure has a projected change as a result of the request being granted, all the way down through no measures were included in this request. So I went through and encoded all of those, all 90 of those requests, according to this scale. And then, you know, did a overview of what percent of a request, requests fell into each level? How well do we do when we’re using the performance measures? And then, for the equity process, that was a little more complicated, because I wanted to look at the requests as a whole, as well as looking at the requests, the questions that Pat mentioned those four questions that provided the opportunity for departments to talk about equity. So I came up with a set of criteria based on reading work that Durham had already done around equity and equitable engagement, as well as the Government Alliance on Race and Equities, racial equity toolkit, and pulled out, you know, four criteria of what types of things do you consider when you’re thinking about equity? So for example, disparate impact is something that you might think about when you’re considering equity. So then, I came up with this whole coding system that involved, did they use the word equity? Did they evoke equity based on those four criteria that I mentioned? And then I coded each each question, according to what different types of responses did people include when they answered those for more specific questions? And generally, there would have been one theme that involved equity there as well. So then, again, doing kind of a descriptive overview of where things fell out, did people mostly focus on level of service? Did they focus on equity? Did they focus on engagement, that sort of thing.

Pat Madej

And, yeah, something that all that I mean, this work was really great, because it’s something that, you know, we’ve talked about, and, you know, we haven’t really had the time to do you know, like I said, there’s 90 requests, and it was a lot, a lot of time to go through all of those and, you know, I told Molly, I was like this is some of this is gonna be a slog, get a good Spotify playlist going in the background. But you know, it was really important work and, you know, along the way, we made sure to kind of, you know, again, provide the why behind the project and things like that. And these results are going to help us design a better budget form next year. You know, we’re taking kind of what we found and for instance, with the performance measures part that Molly was talking about, you know, we want to create this culture where departments are constantly thinking about data and how to use it to drive the stuff they’re asking for. And, you know, we need to use it to drive what we’re funding. So that’s, you know, the sort of thing that’s going to help us kind of tweak that question next year to, you know, better get at the kind of information we’re looking for, and, you know, to be able to help departments to, you know, think, then provide that kind of information. And same with the work on those equity related questions, you know, it’s a really important topic. And, you know, it’s the sort of thing where I heard on a webinar recently, somebody had said that no matter where you are in the organization, you should be thinking about equity. You know, I’m probably butchering the quote, but it essentially conveyed that like, no matter where you are, you know, you should be thinking about it, and trying to pull it into your work. And I think, you know, even though, you know, we’re just a budget department, you know, we can think creatively and think about how to contribute to our organization’s overall mission. And this is just one way of doing it. So it was really cool. And again, you know, these are, these are building blocks that as time goes on, we’re going to kind of use as a base to build.

Kirsten Wyatt

So, share with us more about where this idea came from. I mean, it sounds like, obviously, you have an articulated equity policy with the city, you know, you obviously put a lot of stock in your performance management program. But tell us more about, you know, where did, where did this come from, to actually put it into motion?

Pat Madej

It’s a good question. And, you know, we’re just constantly talking about these things in the office, and with this particular project of, you know, adding these questions to the budget form it, you know, I’m not entirely sure if it came up organically, or you know, where along the way it came up, but we’re constantly, you know, we’ve changed our budget form every year that I’ve been here to kind of ask questions differently, and things like that. So we’re constantly tweaking it, and constantly looking for what we could put on it, to kind of, you know, again, get to that sort of next level of budgeting and trying to think at a higher level.

Kirsten Wyatt

And what are some of your next steps that you’re planning, based on the results of this work?

Pat Madej

I think the next step is really, you know, as again, as a budget analyst, I’m not really the expert on this stuff. So we’re going to be kind of sharing this information out, you know, with different stakeholders in the organization, and we’ve got an Equity Task Force and things like that. So, you know, from our end, you know, it’s just kind of, you know, developing better questions and developing a process. And that takes time, and we’re still in the early stages of it.

Kirsten Wyatt

And do you, does Durham have other lenses that you’re using for budget requests, beyond equity and performance measurement?

Pat Madej

Um, yeah, I think we do the typical kind of stuff you might see in other places. You know, you consider, you know, are requests recurring, are they one time. You know, we’ve got a strategic plan. And that’s another question we ask, which, you know, we unfortunately, didn’t get as far as seeing, you know, how many requests tied to what particular strategic plan goals and initiatives and things like that, but that would be a cool project for the future. So we’re, we’re definitely you know, and you’ve got lots of different goals out there that we’re trying to reach. Our strategic plan is pretty thorough, a lot of different themes there. So that’s definitely another way we look at it.

Kirsten Wyatt

And then anything else you’d like to share with our listeners about this project? If someone was listening, and they want to bring this to their organization, any advice or tips that you might you might give?

Pat Madej

I would say, talk to the experts in your organization about this sort of stuff. And you know, like we said, we’re going to be engaging outside of our office. And Molly did a lot of research on kind of coming up with the way she was going to be looking at these questions. So that’s definitely one of them, look at your organization’s goals. And just, you know, it can be as simple as just starting with a few basic questions. And, you know, you’ve got to start somewhere. So figure out where you want to start and then take that and build on it. Do you have any tips, Molly from kind of the work you did?

Molly Gaskin

Certainly bringing in experts and then you know, as with any program evaluation, I think clarifying what you are looking for. So, you know, here we’re looking to see how people were thinking about their requests, not the extent to which equity was actually implemented. So that’s another thing that maybe would need to be considered in the future for a different project is evaluating you know, what, what’s being done?

Pat Madej

Pat Yeah, and that just got me thinking, starting with the end in mind, if you can, is really helpful. You know, even with just kind of like on a more micro level, when we did this specific project, we were, you know, before we asked Molly to jump in and do a lot of the legwork, we, you know, we thought of like, what are we going to use this information for? What format is going to help us figure it out? And I think as we move forward with, you know, our budget forms next year, if we pull this kind of stuff in, you know, we’re going to be thinking ahead to next summer when the budget process is done, and what kind of answers are we gonna want, and, you know, what are the right questions that are gonna help us figure that out.

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and hopefully, today’s episode is also a reminder that if someone wanted to undertake this project, it really is a nice fit with an internship program. Because it’s, I mean, it sounds like it gave to you, Molly, like a very concrete project to work on, that tied in so many of these important skills and perspectives to consider. And so if nothing else, hopefully, our listeners are considering an internship program, and then potentially, this being one of those concrete projects.

Molly Gaskin

Yeah, it absolutely did. And, you know, to add, on top of that, reading through all of the requests that departments put in, was really great exposure just to the organization itself in a different way than you can get from attending meetings, too. So that was an unexpectedly great part of that.

Kirsten Wyatt

That’s a great point.

Pat Madej

Pat Yeah, I think another piece of advice to throw in is just to, you know, think outside your job description, like I don’t, you know, this project, you know, isn’t in any particular budget analysts description, you know, nor did the charge really come from anywhere. It was kind of us as a team that thought of it and ran with it as an idea. And, you know, that just came from us knowing that equity is a super important topic. Similar to you know, I love performance management. And it’s really cool that that aspect is in our budget office, in our organization in particular. So, you know, this was all stuff that we just took the initiative to do. So if it’s stuff you’re interested in, you know, there’s always a way to figure out how to tie it into your work, if you can get creative enough.

Kirsten Wyatt

And coming up, you’ll be sharing more information about the internship program and running a successful internship with ELGL, in a series of articles on elgl.org. Can you share with our listeners a little sneak peek of what they can expect from that series?

Pat Madej

Sure, um, yeah, we’re right now looking at a three part posts where, you know, we’re going to be talking about some of the stuff we talked about here, just designing an internship program. You know, Molly’s writing about perspective of going through it. And then we’re going to talk a little bit more and, you know, maybe share some more examples from the performance measure and equity stuff we talked about.

Kirsten Wyatt

Wonderful. And so for our listeners, you can find that on our website at ELGL.org. And we’ll make sure that we share it out on social media as well. So one last question for you both. If you could be the GovLove DJ, what song would you pick as our exit music for this episode?

Molly Gaskin

My current favorite song is the Jonas Brothers, What a Man Gotta Do. [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

I love it. Pat, what about you?

Pat Madej

I’m gonna defer to Molly, let’s do it. [Laughter]

Kirsten Wyatt

Well, and I love the visual of Ben Kittelson having to download some Jonas Brothers, since he tends to be a bit of a music snob. So this is, this is a great chance for Ben to to open up his heart to the Jonas Brothers. Alright, so I want to thank you both for joining us today. It was an absolute pleasure to have you. And thank you for providing so many realistic and concrete examples of a good internship program and your budget request form. So thank you for being here today.

Pat Madej

Thanks so much for having us. This was awesome.

Molly Gaskin

Yeah, thank you.

Kirsten Wyatt

GovLove is produced by a rotating cast of ELGL volunteers. ELGL is the Engaging Local Government Leaders network. Our vision is to amplify the good in local government. And we do this by engaging the brightest minds in local government. For our listeners, you can reach us at elgl.org/GovLove or on Twitter @Govlovepodcasts. If you have a story idea, we’re always welcoming new stories. So send us an email at [email protected] or you can message us on Twitter. Thank you again for listening. This has been GovLove, a podcast about local government.


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