Making an Impact

ncIMPACT Initiative is an applied public policy team that works with public officials to develop collaborative solutions to North Carolina’s wicked problems. They use an interdisciplinary approach, data driven high-quality analysis, and innovative practices to implement, evaluate, and publicize these solutions while remaining politically and policy neutral.

This is where I’ll be doing my Professional Work Experience.  My introduction  with ncIMPACT is a Zoom call with my new supervisor, Emily, on Monday at 9 AM. It’s the second to last day of exams and I’m still turning in a final tonight, but my MSW-MPA requirements mean I’m working 600 hours this summer; there’s no time to take a week or two and recuperate. The whirlwind of getting onboarded to a new organization coincides with the relief of finishing off an unusual and difficult semester, thanks to the coronavirus.

COVID-19 has blurred the lines between work and life so thoroughly that transitioning from academia to work is almost effortless, at least logistically. I’m still working from home, likely through at least the end of May, if not longer. Instead of Zoom classes, it’s Zoom meetings as I get acquainted with ncIMPACT’s work and the projects I’ll be working on this summer. Part of the SOG, ncIMPACT runs applied public policy and research projects all over the state, building collaboratives in order to implement solutions to complex community problems. I’m curious to see how ncIMPACT straddles the academia-practitioner divide, aiming for direct implementation of research rather than the traditional route of academic publishing.

I’ll be working on at least four different projects this summer: their UNC-TV series, the Opioid Response Project, their federally-funded social capital project, and the EITC in NC project. Run by two different project managers, Emily and Brooklyn, these interesting projects will keep me busy as I work with a variety of staff and clients. I’m thrilled to have found an organization that will allow me to stretch both my social work and public administration muscles, doing research, policy, assessments, interventions, and evaluations of communities and systems.

In my first week, I’m already writing blogs for UNC-TV, attending virtual town halls, and getting involved with a literature review process for the social capital project, plus a variety of meetings to learn more about how I will be contributing to each of the four projects this summer. I can’t wait to see what I learn and accomplish as I look towards my final year of grad school. Let’s get started!

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