Madison Doser interned with the American Public Human Services Association and authored national policy reports and communications.
How did you get this internship?
I obtained this internship by participating in the Washington Center internship program during the summer of 2022 in Washington D.C. As part of the program, I was granted the opportunity to apply for internship positions at partner organizations. I applied at the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) and was offered the role. I participated in the internship as a hybrid worker during the summer in D.C. At the end of the initial term, I was offered the opportunity to continue my internship remotely into the fall semester, an offer I gladly accepted.
What kind of work did you do throughout your internship experience?
I had the opportunity to participate in multiple different methods of policy recommendations, research, and member discussions. As part of my internship, I completed research on child welfare outcomes as a result of an increased focus on mental health services, financial assistance, and family drug court involvement. I also conducted research on best practices in child welfare to propose to Congress and state child welfare leaders. My internship also granted me the opportunity to research and publish an article on the effects of maternal and childhood poverty on health outcomes. I was also given the opportunity to lead a partnership between The National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors and my internship site where I presented on state examples of collaborations between state child welfare agencies and substance misuse practitioners. Finally, I served as a liaison between APHSA and state child welfare leaders and was granted the opportunity to travel to multiple in-person conferences.
What new knowledge and skills did you develop in this internship?
Because APHSA is a nonpartisan organization, I had to work to ensure that all writing I completed was framed in a way that was not biased towards one party or another. My work was heavily evidence-based and required a significant amount of research and preparation, allowing me to develop my technical writing and research skills. Because I was granted many opportunities to present my ideas and discuss with child welfare leaders, I was also able to develop my public speaking and communication skills, both written and verbal. I believe my most fruitful piece of knowledge gained, however, was the specialized information on child welfare, including how the system works, funding sources, administrative burden resulting from Family First legislation, etc. all of which culminated in my newfound ability to pick apart and understand complex legislative materials.
How did your Applied Humanities major coursework help prepare you or give you unique insight for the internship experience?
This internship required me to call on a multitude of the skills I’ve developed through my Humanities coursework, especially those that I developed in PAH 420 and PAH 372. PAH 420 Innovation and the Human Condition taught me methods of community interaction and the importance of teamwork, all of which were important in my work with my APHSA team and in my interactions with state child welfare leaders. PAH 372 Intercultural Competence taught me the benefits of effective communication with people from diverse backgrounds. The methods I learned and the mindsets I adopted from that class were beneficial to me because child welfare is full of people with a range of different backgrounds, experiences, and ways of thinking that must be taken into account both when making policy proposals and when discussing with others.
What was your most satisfying part of your internship?
The most satisfying part of my internship was when I was sent to a meeting hosted by the Administration for Children and Families as the only APHSA representative on the call. The meeting was focused on supporting equity in child welfare and the advice and guidance of APHSA were requested. Because I was the only person there from my organization, I was nervous that I didn’t know enough to provide beneficial feedback on the topic. Nevertheless, I made efforts to discuss the importance of lived experience in the field and the systemic barriers that exist in the current child welfare system. My feedback was not only right on point, but was praised and accepted by the Administration. All of the research and writing I had completed during my internship had led to that point and I’m proud that I was able to utilize it all to formulate a well-thought-out and accepted argument.
What did you find most challenging about your internship?
My internship really required me to step outside of my comfort zone. The most challenging part of my internship was the fact that I was going into a very specialized policy area without any previous experience. There were multiple acronyms I needed to learn on the fly and policy questions that I was afraid to ask about. This internship challenged my beliefs about asking questions being a sign of weakness and not knowing everything immediately as a sign that I was incapable. I became more willing to ask questions, be unsure, and obtain clarifications and with that, I grew my confidence and my knowledge.