Internships

I went down to Olympia yesterday to interview for an internship with the Washington State Department of Information Services. This position would essentially be working with DIS to help them roll out services from their development to production environments; most notably, this would involve work with SharePoint and allow me to have fairly decent exposure to a lot of different projects across state agencies. I wouldn’t be dealing with “end users” per se – at least not in the traditional sense of “non-technical everyday people”. The work would support system administrators and developers in their efforts to use the offerings put forth by DIS.

The interview went about as perfectly as I could hope – after getting signed into the building and getting a visitor badge, I was shown upstairs and talked with the group about my previous experience in SharePoint and answered a few questions about what I thought the internship might entail. As it turns out, one of the people I would be working with in that position was actually an MSIM student in the past, so there was also a smaller conversation about the program itself. The next step is figuring out who I would report to, since there’s some deliberation as to who would be most effective. After the interview, I was given a brief walkaround to meet a couple of other individuals in the office.

On this one, I’m optimistic.

There is, however, still my original discussion with the Washington State Department of Ecology, which has turned into something of a hassle. While Ecology’s project is fascinating – involving working directly with the state’s sustainability initiatives – there are a couple major problems that are causing red flags to pop up in my head left and right:

  1. Communication. I get very random e-mails from Ecology, and not just from a single person – from multiple people, and it’s often fairly clear that they’re not talking to each other internally at all. While I was very comfortably dealing with multiple people at DIS, I have always had a primary contact at each step of the way, which moved from their HR department to a high-level supervisor to a supervisor closer to the work that I would actually be doing. I know at this moment exactly who to talk to and who to work with within DIS to make an internship happen. With Ecology, I have no idea who’s in charge of coordination or who I’d be reporting to. On top of that, they can’t seem to figure out the difference between a capstone project and an internship.
  2. Vetting. Whereas DIS put me through a state application process, the usual requests for references, and an in-person interview, Ecology has done nothing of the sort (and in fact, unless I’ve been misreading the last couple e-mails, seem to be assuming that they’ve already brought me on as an intern!). As important as the vetting process is for an employer, it’s actually almost as important for an employee – it tells me that DIS is taking this seriously and putting me through a standard process for hiring. Ecology hasn’t even so much as requested a resume, to my current recollection.

In short, regardless of what happens with DIS, I’m likely to withdraw my interest in an internship with Ecology – it doesn’t matter how great the project is if the planning process itself isn’t executed well, and at this point, it doesn’t feel well-executed in the least. I’ve had a couple e-mail conversations with people within the MSIM program who have both recommended talking to Ecology either over the phone or in person, but with the DIS interview having gone well (and, quite frankly, sounding like it’ll offer many more opportunities to get involved in different areas), I’m not sure it’s worth the effort.