Business Center

End of Internship Article: New Experiences in State Government

By: Nadia Iranpour, Project Management Intern

July 15, 2019

Nadia Iranpour

The bulk of my experience is focused on non-profit and refugee work. In many ways, I have seen the best of humanity through this kind of work, where passion has to fulfill you to make up for long hours, dismal pay, and difficult trauma. I am deeply committed to this fight, to push to assist others in whatever life has thrown their way and take time to examine my privileges and how I can use my power to institute real change.

My long-term goal is to gain a position where I can influence others and the law – to make serious changes for those who desperately need it. This type of position would be in the realm of legislator which requires thoughtful and serious government experience. I believe oftentimes, people believe they have a clear understanding how government runs and how they could solve it if only they were in charge.

For this reason, I really desired concrete experience in government where I could legitimately gain an understanding of many different kinds of projects in a more outwardly controversial part of state government. The public often has a critical view of Departments of Transportation, because they are unaware of how processes go or how their minor inconveniences ignore how many things are running well. I am happy to have had the opportunity to work with the Office of Process Improvement in the Colorado Department of Transportation as a Project Management Intern.

The Value of Experience

I hadn’t had experience with project management at all before, most of my work had been focused in large-scale programs where I played the role as volunteer coordinator or liaison between departments. This was my first opportunity to get into the minute details and work with official processes for other departments.

I officially learned process improvement and change management, which are applicable to any kind of business. I learned how to work with men and specifically men in maintenance work, which is not something I had experienced before as most nonprofits primarily employ women.

I learned more technical tools for managing projects. I learned about national and statewide initiatives for implementing change and how many individuals throughout the states are dedicated to making transportation safer.

Lessons Learned

I learned that oftentimes, government can be change resistant. I have found that oftentimes, there was little regard for change management and for the work loads of others. On a couple of occasions, our office would try to implement or reinforce change at the request of a leader but then the employees wouldn’t have it.

I realized serious change would take months to years to implement. It was difficult to learn this. I found that I was becoming frustrated with the emotions of those I was working with because their commitment to the project seemed to change by the day. I think the concept of buy-in is crucial and will be something I focus on in the future.

Next Steps

I am now moving on to more internationally focused work, which is what my master’s degree is focused on. I am absolutely going to utilize my technical training to run projects in other organizations. I am grateful for this opportunity and the great people I have gotten to meet and learn from.

I still hope to be a leader and implement change with the new state government experience I have.