Hi! My name is Chris and I am a second year MPH student at the University at Albany.
I am interning at the Commission on Economic Opportunity for the Greater Capital Region, Inc. (CEO), located in Troy, New York. CEO was established in 1965 as the designated Community Action Agency (CAA) for Rensselaer County after President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the “War on Poverty” during his State of the Union Address on January 8, 1964. As a CAA, CEO operates within a national network to create partnerships and develop opportunities for social and economic growth and empowerment for individuals, families, and communities in Rensselaer County and the greater Capital Region.
At CEO, my role is to assist the Director of Program Operations, Erin Bradley, in completing the latest CEO Community Needs Assessment (CNA) for Rensselaer County through the collection and analysis of data.
The CNA is a vital tool used to uncover the current and future opportunities and challenges facing the disadvantaged, low-income population in Rensselaer County. It also is used to assess current CEO programs and services and guide their future designs. Based on the data, I am helping to generate a collection of key findings to better understand the top community needs in Rensselaer County and the underlying cause of those needs— and develop recommendations on how CEO may best address them.
Interning at CEO is a unique experience because I see interactions between dedicated staff members and the community on a regular basis. Every day, I see children entering the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, families being nutritionally accommodated through the food pantry, and young teens participating in the youth program.
It gives me a sense of pride and purpose and reminds me of what my internship work is truly accomplishing.
I have learned through my internship how intricate the daily operations of a non-profit like CEO can be. The agency offers multiple programs and services through its five core areas. Furthermore, community organization partnership plays a huge role with CEO. Even when they cannot provide the services to meet a customer, CEO utilizes inter-agency reference and collaboration to offer a comprehensive continuum of care. It is not easy, to say the least; however, the dedication, accountability, and cooperation of CEO team members makes the entire process look effortless. Having the opportunity to work with these supportive professionals who are nurturing to the needs of the community has been the most beneficial part of interning (although having my own office is a major plus!).
I wanted the opportunity to exercise my analytic skills as a public health professional beyond the realm of health conditions. During this internship, I was truly able to know the population my work served. This internship experience has bolstered my confidence in data analysis and opened my mind to the idea of conducting my own survey study later in my career.