Sarah Van Houten: My experience at EOI

Sarah Van HoutenAfter a productive and memorable summer, EOI says goodbye to one of our Graduate Policy Interns, Sarah Van Houten. Below, she shares why she applied to work at EOI and what she’s taking away from the experience. Sarah will receive her master’s degree in public administration with a specialization in nonprofit management from Seattle University next summer.

Why did you decide to work for EOI this summer?

Policy and politics have always been an interest of mine and after taking a few classes on policy and government and wanted to explore what policy work was all about. My goal was to find an internship where I could learn about public policy and gain hands-on experience in policy analysis and advocacy. What attracted me to EOI was their work with progressive social policy issues that align with my own values.

What projects did you work on and what was exciting about them?

I completed two policy related projects during my time at EOI. The first was a compilation of all the paycheck transparency laws that have been passed in states across the nation and the second was a research brief describing and analyzing the two early learning proposals on the ballot this November. I very much enjoyed the opportunity to research both topics more extensively as they are so important and highly relevant.

In addition, I assisted the policy team in planning and promoting three community forums as part of the Washington Work and Family Coalition’s statewide campaign for women’s economic security. Paycheck fairness, paid sick leave, and paid family leave are some of the most pressing policy concerns facing working women and it was exciting to work with the event cosponsors and connect with individuals directly affected by these issues.

On the communications side, I helped manage both EOI’s and Washington Work and Family’s social media presence on Facebook and Twitter. I also drafted short blog posts and coordinated the bi-monthly Washington Policy Review Newsletter. These projects provided a fantastic learning experience and it was rewarding to see how my writing progressed over the course of the summer.

What are you taking away from your experience with EOI and how will what you’ve learned be useful to you in the future?

I had experience using online social tools but this internship really helped me hone my writing skills specifically for social media use. The ability to grab the attention of the reader and motivate them to read further with only a few words or a catchy title will be invaluable in future positions. I also appreciated gaining experience with new databases and online platforms such as SalesForce, ConstantContact, and WordPress. These programs are highly utilized in the nonprofit world and my experience with them will aid me in my career endeavors.

My experience at EOI broadened my understanding of the complex economic and policy issues facing working women and families such as early learning, paid leave, and fair pay. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about the challenges faced by individuals across the state and I will continue to support women’s economic security in the future.

What advice do you have for future EOI Interns?

Attend everything! Community forums, staff meetings, board meetings, coalition meetings, whatever you can attend, it’s worth it. You learn so much simply by being present and engaging in the conversation. I was fortunate to have been with EOI during a period of transition and the opportunity to sit in on discussion concerning strategy, branding and organizational planning were incredibly insightful.

 Editor’s Note: Interested in an internship at EOI? Check our website early next spring to apply.

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