Council on Competitiveness

The past month settling into my internship has flown by. Located in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., I have been working at the Council on Competitiveness (http://www.compete.org) – commonly referred to just as the “Council.” This is actually my second stint, the first immediately preceding the first year of Bard CEP.

The Council on Competitiveness is a non-profit think tank that brings together America’s top CEOs, labor leaders and university presidents to create and advance federal and regional policy recommendations that positively impact U.S. competitiveness and enhance prosperity in a globalized economy. The Council leverages these relationships and convening power to attract the attention of policy makers to move the nation’s competitiveness agenda forward.

Currently, the flagship initiative at the Council is focused on restoring the manufacturing competitiveness of the United States. My role, having previous interned at the Council on their now defunct Energy Security, Innovation and Sustainability (ESIS) Initiative, is working with the Director of Policy to incorporate clean energy as a driver of competitiveness in the manufacturing space as a supply of energy as well as the products being manufactured. As much as I am excited to work in a topic related to energy, I am thrilled at the prospect of having a hand in shaping the direction of this project. The concept is that investing in clean energy technology that is manufactured in the United States creates jobs, reduces our reliance on imported fuel, contributes to the health of the economy and improves national competitiveness. Leading the global market in clean energy manufacturing also encourages the use of such commodities domestically, catalyzing our movement to a low-carbon economy and enhancing America’s credibility as a leader in manufacturing the next generation of clean energy products.

My responsibilities at the Council are wide, but most often fall somewhere between writing and research. One of the benefits of having worked at the Council is the ability to hit the ground running. In the month since beginning the internship, I have already written several highly visible products outlining the scope of our new clean energy manufacturing project and Council reactions to current events. Much of my writing has been informed by research on topics I believe are related as well as other research tasks assigned to me by more senior members off the organization. Part of my researching duties requires that I be up to date and knowledgeable about related current and in-process legislation. I also fulfill the traditional intern role of attending numerous events around Washington, D.C. and have on several occasions acted as the Council’s representative. Along with these responsibilities comes my official job title of Energy Project Coordinator. I haven’t been able to convince them to print me business cards though…yet.

Unlike the last time I worked for the Council, now it seems there are as many interns as there are full time staff members. This helps balance out the power distribution of the office, and brings a bit of levity to the day-to-day workflow. It seems the current crop of interns, myself included, are learning that the most valuable aspect of any internship is understanding how to operate successfully outside the academic arena. Having spent several years in the workforce before returning to grad school, while in Washington, D.C. the next most valuable aspect of this internship will be networking. Meet new people, introduce myself (make sure to have your elevator speech prepared!), and follow up. Rinse and repeat.

In my own attempt to facilitate conversation and learn some of the new faces around the office, I have taken to bringing in tubs of animal crackers and candy to place on my desk to make up for our lack of a water cooler. It is wonderful to hear what makes people interested in a particular niche, how interns are adjusting to office life and throwing around ideas without being stuck behind a desk. The downside is in three and a half weeks we have already eaten through a 42oz bag of peanut M&M’s, more than two pounds of trail mix and we are already a good way through our third 4lb tub of animal crackers. These people are going to eat me out of house and home!

My internship is already one-sixth over. If the first month was any indication of how the rest of the internship will go, it should be a blast! Until next time readers.

-Mike Bernstein

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