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Intern Spotlight Series: Charles Huang

Charles Huang is an intern in the Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, Office of the Secretary. He shares his experience working at the Department of Commerce this summer in this Q&A. This is the second installment of a seven-part series.

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

I grew up as the son of immigrants in Rosemount, Minnesota, a small suburb of the Twin Cities with corn fields and a grail silo in our downtown area. People in Rosemount value having a good-paying job and being part of a robust, competitive economy. While interning at a U.S. Senator’s office, I heard from everyday Minnesotans and learned about the economic challenges they faced. So, as an economics and political science student, the Department of Commerce seemed like an ideal place to learn more about economic policy that can meaningfully help Americans. I was also excited about Commerce’s broad approach to enhancing American workers’, businesses’, and industries’ economic competitiveness from both domestic and international approaches. The recently passed CHIPS and Science Act is a great example of those dual approaches: the Department will incentivize domestic semiconductor fabrication, which will make the United States more competitive on the global stage while creating good jobs here at home.

What have you been working on during your internship?

I’ve been privileged to see—and play a helping hand in—our office’s work, which involves understanding problems that affect everyday Americans, thinking of solutions that Commerce can employ to address those challenges, and then working to implement those solutions. For example, I’ve helped with policy-related research on workforce development, supply chain resiliency, and other economic policy efforts. I’ve also been working a project to improve how Federal Advisory Committees are established and renewed, so government can more efficiently hear from people on the ground and more effectively work to meet their needs. Additionally, I’m supporting our team by assembling briefing materials and memos, tracking interagency policy committees, ensuring clearances of documents, and scheduling stakeholder outreach meetings.

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

I wanted to intern at Commerce to learn about economic policy and policymaking, and I think I’ve learned a fair amount about that, as well as developing professional skills. I‘ve learned so much from the hardworking people at the Department—both political appointees and career civil servants. Whether it’s working directly with them, talking with them about their career paths and perspectives on public service, or just seeing the work they do, I’ve seen how people at Commerce and across government work hard in the interest of the American people, in part by working with people in the private sector who want to create strong jobs and businesses in the United States. I’ve learned that while government sometimes feels slow, that is often because issues are more complex than they appear at face value, there is always more than one side to the story, and there is always nuance embedded in big problems and policy solutions. When solving challenges that affect a diverse nation, the Department values having diverse voices at the table, which is an approach that I will take away when facing other challenges too.