Introduction to the Office of National Affairs Internship Program

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What is the Office of National Affairs (ONA)?

ONA is the Drug Policy Alliance’s primary means of influencing legislation in Congress and drug policy in the White House. ONA’s primary mission is to accomplish substantive policy reform through congressional legislation, hearings and events. This mission is accomplished through lobbying, outreach and education activities. The Office of National Affairs consists of five staff: Bill Piper, Director; Jasmine Tyler, Deputy Director; Grant Smith, Policy Manager and the coordinator of this internship program; Michael Collins, Policy Manager; and Maggie Taylor, Policy Associate. Due to the nature of our work, and limited resources, interns play an integral role in moving ONA’s mission forward.

What do interns do?

The ONA internship program consists of two unpaid positions designed for individuals who are either enrolled in undergraduate or graduate-level study, or who completed their studies within one year of the internship program start date. ONA interns conduct substantive work that is critically linked to both the day-to-day and long-term objectives of the office.

Volunteers work on a variety of projects, for example:

  • Conducting research on a variety of topics and issues
  • Writing memos, briefs, summaries and letters on the basis of in-office research
  • Conducting research for policy development purposes
  • Editing and proofreading
  • Lobbying activities (limited to phone banking and dropping packets on Capitol Hill)
  • Some administrative tasks (e.g. running errands, photocopying, assembling packets, answering the general phone line during peak times)
  • Other general, unspecified support for ONA staff

We strive to ensure that your time with us is meaningful – therefore, we keep administrative and monotonous assignments to a minimum. However, there may be busy times when we may ask you to do several in a week. Also, lobbying activities are reserved for those individuals who are not restricted from conducting such activities as part of a school or educational program that explicitly requests no lobbying for IRS/non-profit status purposes.

We expect interns to complete at least 24 hours per week. We are flexible as to when these hours may be served, but interns must be able to work a minimum of four-hour intervals at a time. Interns are encouraged to work more than 24 hours per week if they are willing and able, and many interns opt to do so.  In addition, some ONA interns serve as part of a school-related program that is full-time in nature. Interns and their supervisor will work together to create a regular work schedule with a minimum of 24 hours per week. It is necessary that your supervisor knows what your schedule will be each week for strategic planning purposes.

What can I expect as an intern?

  • Meaningful and substantive work – Most assignments will involve brain power and some creative thinking – research, writing and analysis are common tasks for ONA interns.
  • Support and supervision – Your supervisor will provide ongoing support and provide for informal check-ins. Although formal evaluations are not conducted until the conclusion of the internship, an intern may request formal feedback at any time. If appropriate, ONA may supply you with a reference if required for future employment
  • Room to learn and grow – This internship program is just as much an opportunity for ONA to serve an intern’s academic and career interests as it is an opportunity for an intern to serve ONA. Please do not hesitate to ask questions, utilize the resources available to ONA staff, reach out to other staff in DPA offices across the country, attend drug policy related events around the city, attend congressional hearings and events etc. If an intern is working on a dissertation or other academic pursuit, they should ask ONA staff who they should speak with on a particular drug-related subject.
  • Inclusion in ONA events – We make a sincere effort to notify and invite all interns to any formal (and informal) events that ONA staff is planning on attending.

Please contact Grant Smith, ONA’s internship coordinator, with questions: gsmith [at] drugpolicy [dot] org

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