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Bill Dow: “EOI likes to not only include, but also solicit, the opinions and insights of interns”

bill dow

Former EOI intern Bill Dow

Editor’s Note: Interested in an internship at EOI? Read all about them right here.

Earlier this year, I sat down with Bill Dow  to talk about his internship at EOI. Here’s what he had to say:

Why did you decide to come work for EOI this summer?

I actually started working at EOI in June 2012, working on communications, policy and outreach for EOI’s Voluntary Retirement Security Accounts for Seattle plan. In addition to EOI being one of the few public policy institutions that actually pays its interns in this day and age, I had a great experience working with Policy Director Marilyn Watkins while I interned for Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata in summer 2011, when EOI helped pass the city’s paid sick days legislation. Since then, I knew I wanted to work for an organization with such a great vision and history of action, and I feel blessed to be working at EOI today.

What project are you working on, and what’s exciting about it?

I have been really lucky to have worked on several projects in my 15 months at EOI. I started working on retirement security issues under Gary Burris, which I still do – to some extent – today. I’ve also done a little bit with early education issues, which are interesting, but my favorite project that I’ve spent a lot of time on since coming here is K-12 education. I came in at the ground level of EOI’s work with education policy and helped organize a conference last November comparing the education system of Washington state and Finland. Since then, we’ve been keeping track of innovative ways to improve our local education system while breaking the mold of the testing and “reform” paradigms that have had a negative impact on students and teachers. Finding new solutions, as well as being a part of EOI’s beginning work on K-12 education policy, has been very exciting.

How do you think your EOI experience will be useful for you in the future?

I’ve learned so much about local and federal policy since coming here. Ranging from the legal intricacies of retirement savings plans, to the local stakeholders in education policy and how they feel about changes in the system, I feel like I know a lot more. After going to law school at Seattle University this fall, I hope to use the knowledge and connections I have gained from working at EOI to improve this city.

What is one thing that has surprised you about working here?

Operations Manager Aaron Keating’s voice is actually as low in person as it is on the phone. Oh, and just how well respected EOI is statewide. Not only does everybody know what we do, but they respect our contributions to public policy and actually solicit knowledge/advice regularly.

What’s one thing you wish you had known/studied more before starting your internship?

I wish I had familiarized myself more with EOI’s work more broadly prior to working here. I became familiar with the projects I was working on very quickly, and I was familiar with paid sick days and the 1098 effort in 2010, but EOI has done a heck of a lot more than that. One of my favorite things about EOI is just how much John, Marilyn, and Co. like to not only include but also solicit the opinions and insights of interns. If I had a more extensive knowledge of EOI’s efforts in the past, I feel like my contributions could have been more valuable. That being said, I feel like everybody is learning every day at EOI, so my lack of knowledge didn’t exclude me but instead put me in good company!

What advice would you give to someone who wants a policy internship and/or an internship at EOI?

Do it! It’s not exactly advice for somebody who is already seeking an internship, but working for EOI has been such a rewarding experience for me, and I will be sad to leave in a few short weeks. If I were to give a piece of advice, it would be to not be afraid to ask questions of current staff, even if you’re only thinking about applying. EOI has some of the friendliest employees I’ve had the pleasure of working with, and they would be happy to help you to answer questions and see if this place is a good fit for you!

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