Thaddeus Stern joined the Office of Public Affairs this summer for a two-month internship. In this Q&A, Thaddeus shares why he joined our team, what he's been working on, and what he'll take away from his time with us.
Find Thaddeus on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/thaddeusstern/
Can you share a little bit about yourself and why you chose the U.S. Department of Commerce for your internship?
My name is Thaddeus Stern and I'm a rising sophomore Tufts University studying political science and economics. Before Tufts, I attended St. George’s School, a preparatory school in Newport, Rhode Island. In my junior year, I was selected to participate in a weeklong program in Washington D.C. to gain a deeper knowledge of the federal government in a variety of fields including lawmaking, lobbying, fundraising, campaign strategy, polling, and technology. During my time in D.C., I was able to network with numerous St. George’s graduates working in the city, one of whom is at the Department of Commerce and informed me of the Department’s internships this past year.
I applied for a variety of internships, most of which were in finance, but I was particularly interested in the opportunity to work within the Department of Commerce, especially under such extraordinary times. The Department’s thoroughly dedicated assistance towards, and implementation of, the CARES Act has been remarkable to witness and learn about over the past eight weeks.
Why did you choose to study political science and economics?
As the youngest of five, I have been fortunate to gain a lot of exposure to different areas of study and professions from a young age. I have always been fascinated with finance and government, especially where they coincide. I have decided to pursue them both in my course of study because of their relevance and alignment with my professional aspirations. The Department of Commerce seemed like a perfect location to explore the crossroads of my two strongest academic passions.
What did you expect to work on during this internship before it started?
I originally was placed within a different office at the Department of Commerce but given the complexities of working remotely was moved to the Office of Public Affairs. My supervisor, Alicia Sowah, provided a lot of information on what my role would be and what the aspirations of the digital team were when I joined. I was fortunate to be given very helpful insight by the entire OPA as to the various projects I worked on.
What have you been working on during your internship?
Under the leadership of Alicia and Veda Johnson, I have helped work on the Department of Commerce’s Space Campaign and the digital branding for it. Additionally, I helped put together information on the aerospace, defense, natural gas, and oil industries. Lastly, I have been able to help put together content on Twitter for Secretary Ross and the Department of Commerce’s accounts for weekends.
How do you think you’ve helped our team with its work?
I hope that through my work I have been able to take on some ad hoc responsibility and provide the OPA digital team with more flexibility on the tasks we completed. Additionally, I hope I have taken some of the monotony of everyday duties away from my team for them to work on more pressing and nascent matters.
Is there anything you wished you could have worked on or learned about, but didn’t get a chance to?
I am very grateful for everything I have learned through my internship. Given the extraordinary circumstances that the United States and federal government are tasked with, it would have been fascinating to learn more about the CARES Act and Commerce’s unwavering dedication to helping small businesses and households through unprecedented financial challenges. I was fortunate to interact with some numbers and figures that came from the CARES Act’s assistance and were communicated through the OPA for the public to familiarize themselves with.
What have you learned during this internship that you can apply in the future?
I believe the ability to work with people digitally and virtually can be a challenge, and something important to learn. My team was efficient in outlining timeframes, expectations, and communicating in large groups to accomplish goals or to ensure everyone is on the same page. The need for transparent communication is extremely important and will serve me well moving forward as I gain more exposure in professional settings and working effectively with coworkers for a common purpose.