Intern Name: Matthew Connolly
Title/Place of Internship: Communication Officer for the Department of Human Services in Family Services
How did you find out about your internship/fellowship/etc.?
Back home in Saint Paul, MN our neighbor works within the Direct Care and Treatment division of the Department of Human Services. I told him my major was communication and he encouraged me to look into the communication internships DHS provides within the healthcare division and the Children and Family divisions. I contacted the department to find out more, completed my application, interviewed and was hired in March of 2019.
What were your responsibilities at your internship/fellowship/etc.?
Working for the Department of Human Services, my responsibilities consisted of assisting in the production, development, management, and publication of materials to support the agency’s top priorities. within the Children and Family Services division, I oversaw communication work for State wide programs such as: foster care, adoption, child support, WIC, SNAP, and many more programs. On behalf of these divisions, I wrote and/or oversaw the completion of: Governor’s proclamations, news releases, employee profiles on more than one dozen employees, social media photos and posts, website content, monthly communications plans, Commissioner's talking points, communications bar graphs, photographs, fact sheets, DHS Today articles, and CFS Update articles.
What was the most beneficial aspect of your experience?
Working for the state, the most beneficial aspect was being able to see first-hand how and by whom our government is run and what it takes to function. Our government-run programs would not exist without the dedicated team of state employees that show up every day for the people of Minnesota. This summer, I was fortunate enough to meet and work with the people who make those programs run; subsequently helping Minnesota maintain its standard of living. I learned that government is not just one single operating system, but a compilation of small cogs that make up a gigantic machine, a machine constantly evolving and moving. My position and responsibilities evolved daily, as I was asked to help out a different department or to take on additional projects unrelated to my own. Working for the Children and Family Services Division was significant though because it is by far the largest in terms of communication responsibilities. We cover a wide breadth of programs and services and learning the ins and outs of each was an extreme privilege and honor. This summer through working at the Department of Human Services, I learned that the functions of government communication consist of informing, advocating/persuading, and engaging citizens. Each of these functions comes to fruition through a combination of channels and outlets that ultimately make up what government communication is.
What was the most surprising thing you experienced or learned during your internship/fellowship/etc.?
The most surprising thing I experienced during my internship was writing two proclamations that went up to the Governor's desk to be signed into affect. Going into the internship I had no idea I would be writing pieces of that level and seeing the words I wrote down signed off in front of a large audience felt equally as important to the people of Minnesota as it did gratifying to me.
How can you apply what you experienced at your internship/fellowship/etc. in the future?
Every single skill learned from this internship I will be taking into the future with me. My visual presentation skills, my organization skills, my professional skills and overall my writing skills were all incredibly enhanced by spending my summer with the Department of Human Services. Having the chance to really build and creatively apply my talents to the organization as a whole, has helped build a concrete idea of work that I want to go into, in the future.
What advice would you offer to future students interested in this experience?
Enter into this experience, any internship for that matter knowing you don't know everything. Knowing you will make mistakes and that in order to fix those mistakes, you must ask for help. I would have gotten littler to no projects done if it wasn't for the open collaboration and direction I received from my co-workers and supervisors, most often because I asked for help/ clarification.