I started off my day with a very long commute – walking across campus and up to Nassau Street. APPRISE is conveniently located a short walk from my dorm, and I arrived there around 9 am to meet Colleen Driscoll, a Policy Analyst. We started off with an informal breakfast and some introductions – Colleen, Lauren, and Zach (all Policy Analysts) briefed me on some general information about APPRISE while I munched a delicious bagel. They answered my general questions, and then Colleen took me to meet Dr. Jackie Berger ’96, the President of APPRISE, and David Carroll, the Managing Director. After the introductions, I was off to shadow a Senior Policy Analyst, Daniel.
Daniel gave me a general overview of a large project he and many other analysts were working on at the moment – the National Weatherization Assistance Program Evaluation. Daniel talked about the many steps necessary for gathering the data they needed, and then explained a little bit about how they analyze it. When the half-hour was up, I headed one desk over to talk to Lauren, a Policy Analyst.
Lauren was doing some work on a LIHEAP project – Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. She showed me how they help pinpoint how well states target certain groups. She also helped me to understand a bit about how APPRISE uses public information like census data in some of their many projects. After our time was up, I was off to the conference room to sit in on a meeting.
Leah, a Policy Analyst, and Daya, a Senior Policy Analyst, kindly let me sit in on a meeting while Daya caught Leah up on work they were doing together. Although it was the same project that others had been working on, they were working on a distinct and specific aspect and I found that fascinating. As their meeting ended, Lisa, a Research Director, came in for her meeting with them. They were discussing ways to streamline the work they were doing by possibly creating a database. Once the meeting was over, I went to meet with Jeffery, another Policy Analyst.
Jeffery was also working on the WAP project, but a very different aspect of it than anyone else. He was directing and managing a team of technicians who were going to the field to collect data from houses that showed anomalies compared to the majority of houses after weatherization. His job included organizing the technicians, pre-screening the homes with calls to be sure the trip would be worth it, and deciding which homes to visit.
At the end of my time with Jeffery, I had an excellent lunch at Winberie’s with three of the Policy Analysts and an intern. Upon our return, Colleen spoke to me about what she did. She was working on several different things, one of which was a deferral study for homes that had not been weatherized. After Colleen, I went to talk to a Policy Analyst named Will, who showed me some of the basics of the statistical analysis program that the Policy Analysts used, called Stata. He demonstrated how some of its features were very useful to the Policy Analysts and explained how Stata was used for the tasks they performed.
After shadowing Will, I talked to Deena (another Policy Analyst) about the training that she has had while at APPRISE. She had just received a specific certification that would allow her to perform audits on houses to collect data. It also gave her more knowledge behind much of the data that she was analyzing for her job.
Carlos was the next Policy Analyst I talked to, and since I had heard much about the WAP project, which he was also working on, he talked to me about some visits he had done earlier in the year. He went with some experts to evaluate the efficiency of solar panel water heaters in some homes in several different states. It was neat to hear firsthand about how some of the data that they analyzed was collected.
The final Policy Analyst I shadowed was Zach, who also was working on the WAP project. In addition to that, however, he also was doing a specific study in Minnesota, which analyzed much of the same data as the WAP project, just on a smaller scale. I finished out the day chatting with Colleen and Daya about the company in general, and they answered any questions that I still had.
I learned so much over the course of the day! Before shadowing all of the Policy Analysts, I had had no clue that there were so many steps and parts to a data analysis project, especially one the size of the WAP project. I am very grateful to Dr. Berger for allowing me to shadow, and also to all of the Policy Analysts that took time out of their day to speak to me, especially Colleen Driscoll who facilitated my visit. I really enjoyed the atmosphere as well as learning about nonprofit and data analysis work. I am also grateful to Career Services for opening up this experience to me – it has definitely given me some great perspective on the business world as a whole in addition to nonprofit work specifically.