Lauren Faulkner, a Michigan State University linked BA-MPP student, spent her summer interning with the Michigan Democratic Party in their Lansing office, as part of her last undergraduate degree requirements. While there she worked in two departments: Communications (most of the time) and Political Organizing.
Given next year’s upcoming elections Lauren found it exceptionally exciting to be working with the Michigan Democratic Party this summer. In the Communications Department, she worked on an array of tasks including: helping in the creation of a social media plan for posting news and events to various social media platforms and updating contacts for the party for the press, districts and Michigan caucuses. In Political Organizing, Lauren went out in the field to help citizens register to vote and ask to make a pledge to the Michigan Democratic Party. Overall, Lauren feels that her internship with the Michigan Democratic Party has enlightened her real world political knowledge and experience. She has especially enjoyed learning about the strategies of political parties to engage the citizenry, as well as what has to be done in order to spread the message.
Lauren’s previous experience with public policy has mainly been from her work with MSU’s Office for Survey Research (OSR) Lab as a Lab Manager. She has been working at OSR for three years now. In 2012 as an Interviewer she collected data through telephone surveys for various research studies. Since then she has been promoted to Lab Mentor, Lab Supervisor, Lab Manager, and most recently Assistant Project Manager. Her primary responsibilities and duties in the lab now include managing the survey research lab, training new interviewers, desk-testing new project instruments, various tasks to reach project goals, and other duties that keep the lab running smoothly. While at the Nisbet office, Lauren mainly works on program web-based surveys through the Qualtrics platform. She works with project managers and clients to ensure satisfaction with the web survey, as well as the mail version (if applicable).
Working in OSR for the past three years has given Lauren a lot of insight on how important information gathering is to public policy. When she has a project in the lab, there is a lot that she has to do to ensure the maintenance of high data quality, so that the results are accurate. The largest project in the lab, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Study, is a state and federally funded health project that determines where monies would best be spent to improve state residents’ health. Lauren has gained a great appreciation for public policy after seeing the results and impacts that this project has done for the state of Michigan as well as other survey research conducted at OSR.