Although we didn’t have much time to talk about it, Rob completed my internship evaluation this week. Overall I did quite well with no particular criticism, save for his common refrain that I need to learn my value. Ever since our “negotiation session,” he has been on me to make sure I come to appreciate my value as a consultant, even a student consultant, and to not undersell myself. At the end of the list of 4’s and 5’s, he wrote that I have been a great asset to the organization. I’ve learned he is a man that is very deliberate with his word choice, and so I decided to look up the word asset. The common definition is something of value, use, or quality. However, I think the finance definition might be more appropriate in this situation. An asset is a resource that is expected to provide a future benefit, or more casually something that can be turned into cash down the road. I know that by dedicating so much time this summer to having me do this work, BEST and Rob were choosing to put more mission direct activities on the side, add that to my stipend, and you have a real investment in something that they don’t expect to necessarily have instant results, but that will pay back dividends in the future. I work for organizations like this and years later they are still talking about that time they brought in that one consultant that made them re-think things or get some operation under control, and you can hear it in their voice, the value they got from that experience went far beyond the monetary contract. I hope I can continue to be a forward-looking “asset” to many organizations.
Had a great evaluation with Lorna who gave me 5s straight down the evaluation. Having struggled a bit in her class back in winter 2017, but it not mattering because I was taking it P/NP, doing well on this project for someone I so respect has been particularly rewarding, and a bit vindicating. She had no constructive criticism to offer, but we talked about some particular strengths including my (theoretical/academic) background in public participation, creative thinking, and my expertise in training design. She particularly emphasized this last strength, saying how impressed she is with the deep intentionality I put into every aspect of my program design.
Finally, on her evaluation she jotted down “collaborative” and then a big smiley face. At this point that word is an inside joke. Much like sustainability, collaborative is a concept and word that is all the rage. It is also one of the types of public participation listed on the IAP2 Spectrum (see below). And, of course, that means that everyone wants to believe they are doing said type of P2, but in reality true collaboration is really hard. The goal of the collaborate type of P2 is “to partner with the public in each aspect of the decision,” and the promise is that “we will look to you for advice and innovation and incorporate that into the decision to the maximum extent possible.” Each aspect, look to you, and, especially, maximum extent possible are not light words coming from a government agency and certainly don’t match up with a P2 plan that includes a bunch of open houses, outreach materials in Spanish, and maybe an online survey before the expert planners ultimately recommend a decision that is adopted by political leaders. But everyone wants to be collaborative these days, and maybe if they say they are doing it for long enough they will actually figure out how to do it, then maybe we will have a government that truly collaborates with its constituents. Until then though, I know that Lorna appreciates the depth of what it takes to really be collaborative, so I will take it as a very strong compliment.
This week Lysbeth and I were able to debrief Pasadena, do some class planning, and go over my internship evaluation. She gave me 5’s down the line for the internship evaluation with the one exception of a 4 in professional dress. We actually did not talk about that 4, but it is not surprising given our cultural and age differences. Professional appearance is something I really struggle with, not because I dress immodestly or poorly, but as a larger (yet not “large”) woman with limited funds I find it incredibly difficult to find clothes that work with my body type, are comfortable and movable for doing facilitation work, and are affordable. In addition, various symptoms of my multiple sclerosis are constantly on my mind when choosing clothes to wear. For example, in Pasadena where it was 95+ degrees, I had to be mindful of my heat intolerance, or knowing that my bladder can become an issue at any time I tend towards athletic fabrics that won’t show an accident and that I have multiple pairs of so I can easily change with little to-do. And don’t get me started on shoes! When you can’t feel your feet, it is really hard to wear anything cute, let alone anything with a heel.
Professional appearance aside, Lysbeth talked mainly about how impressed she was with my understanding of group process design, as well as my ability to jump into a completely different culture and get quickly up to speed to make sense of the case development I was doing. She mentioned that there would have been no way that she could have taken on the Pasadena contract without having help. This comment made me further think about the value of having a partner for consulting, it can be really difficult to take on solo contracting: it is either feast or famine, and when there is a feast it is hard to be both in the kitchen and playing host. We didn’t talk much about my role in assisting with the class, other than my focus on detail and organization being key for managing the many moving pieces of role plays. Finally, we talked about the use of cloud tools that I have introduced to increase efficiency, such as google documents and students signing up using WeJoinIn.
Although we completed it towards the end of my summer term, Lauren and I went over my mid-project evaluation/check-in this week–considering that this internship will be continuing possibly for the remainder of the school year, it might just be accurate as mid-internship. For ratings, she gave me 5s in all categories except a 4 in punctuality. This was mainly because of the mix-up in meeting start times for our team brainstorm, which she acknowledges was not my fault, nevertheless, punctuality is something I can admit to needing to work on (and care more about in general).
She originally also had given me a 4 in demonstrating understanding of organizational mission and goals, but after observing me complete an interview she changed that to a 5. She was impressed at how much I have managed to soak up in such a little time and what a seemingly comprehensive understanding I have of the complexities and inter-workings of personalities within this project. I honestly feel like I have only touched the tip of the iceberg, but in talking with Lauren, Steve, and Jim I do understand that I have been granted a very unique window into this project as the first person to really sit down and listen with completely open ears to each individual one at a time since probably the case assessment was done years ago.
Her final comment really touched me. She complimented me on how “brave” I have been to just go out and do these interviews with complete strangers and in far flung locations. I never think of myself as brave, I’m such an introvert in the classical social, mingling scenes, but this isn’t the first time I’ve been labeled as such. I suppose it is one of my greatest strengths I bring to a project. I have no fear of power, given appropriate circumstances, I have no problem talking to any big wig in any big fancy, metal screening building. I grew up an only child with more adults than kids for friends till I was half way through primary school. I forget that not everyone fears the playground, but relishes the opportunity to talk to the principal over lunch. I still need to figure out the playground (or the networking happy hour), but I can’t forget that I bring a different type of bravery to the table.
Had a mid-project, or really more like pre-project check-in with Mari and Sarah today. Since they as NPCC are basically contractors, they have less ability to direct the interns so wanted to check-in to see how things are going. Overall, aside from thinking we bought two wide of binders (ha!), things are going well and I am super excited for the upcoming Citizens Initiative Review. I’m still not exactly sure what my tasks will be during the event, but I will be ready to jump in to anything.