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Intern Spotlight Series: Kathryn D. Miller, MPA

Kathryn Miller joined the Office of Performance Excellence this summer as a graduate intern. In this Q&A, Kathryn shares why she joined our team, what she's been working on, and what she'll take away from her time with us.

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Can you share a little bit about yourself and why you chose the U.S. Department of Commerce for your internship?

My name is Kathryn Miller. I am a graduate student intern at the Department of Commerce, Office of the Secretary, Office of the CFO/ASA, in the Performance Excellence function. I am a student of James Madison University (JMU) in Virginia and received my bachelor’s degrees from JMU in Public Policy and Administration, Political Science, and Anthropology. I am currently completing my Master of Public Administration (MPA), also from JMU.

I heard about this internship via networking on LinkedIn. A fellow JMU student reached out to me with the opportunity. I chose the DOC internship because I knew it would be a great learning experience and resume builder.

What have you been working on during your internship?

One of the research projects I completed throughout my internship was in conjunction with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). My work expanded on and updated a research report done by a previous Performance Excellence intern. The purpose of this research was to report on the current state of minority-owned businesses in the United States.

Working under the direction of my intern supervisor, Christine Heflin, I researched public policies and programs that have been proven effective during times of economic downturn or recession. This research helps the Department of Commerce understand how they can best support U.S. economic recovery.

I also produced a weekly analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey and Small Business Pulse Survey and co-authored a blog post on the Department of Commerce's progress regarding the Annual Priority Goals.

How do you think you’ve helped our team with its work?

As a graduate student intern, I brought well-developed technical skills to my position. I was able to draw on my graduate courses to ensure my work was high quality, professional, and what the Performance Excellence team needed.

Is there anything you wished you could have worked on or learned about, but didn’t get a chance to?

I am lucky to have had a wide breadth of topics to work on and projects to do. If anything, I would have liked to do more work towards the Environmental Scan.

I completed this internship 100% virtually. While this helped build my technological skills, I missed the opportunity to experience working in a Federal government building, meeting and networking with employees and interns outside of my office and attending in-person seminars and events. Regardless, it has been a great experience, and I feel immensely fortunate that the DOC could seamlessly host an 100% virtual intern.

What have you learned during this internship that you can apply in the future?

I have learned about many topics relevant to the Department of Commerce Strategic Objectives through experience, online seminars, and training hosted by the Performance Excellence team. This information will be helpful as I begin my career. I have learned a lot about working in the Federal government and the rules/laws that guide our work; this will be helpful as I seek further employment in the public sector.