A Day in the Life of a GA


What I have learned so far during my time (~13 months) at the Public Policy and Management Center (PPMC) has been truly invaluable. From the first week, I was immediately given hands-on experience and responsibility to dive in and start contributing to the PPMC’s work of strengthening people, organizations and communities. So far, I have gained a multitude of experience in strategic planning, community engagement, research and more, and I’m not done yet.

A Graduate Research Assistant (GA) at the PPMC does many things, and with varying amounts of responsibility. Before leaving the PPMC, the professional staff aims to help GAs gain experience in the following areas:

  • Research & Program Evaluation
    • Community and Nonprofit Survey Research
    • Program Evaluation
    • Strategic Planning
    • Organizational Assessment
    • Policy Research
    • Board Development
  • Community Development
    • Community Engagement
    • Facilitation
    • Strategic Planning
    • Program Evaluation and Improvement
  • Talent Development & Professional Services
    • Professional development for government administrators, elected officials, nonprofit
    • organizations and community members
    • Provides association education and support
    • Conference administration
    • Specialized training

That’s a long list, and it takes a while to check off every item. However, I’ve had the privilege of almost doing that very thing. Plus, I get to experience several different projects and work with external local governments, state government agencies and nonprofits. GAs should be adept at managing projects with varying timelines, asking the right questions, willing to work… and willing to have a lot of fun.

While my days are scheduled, either by me or because of ongoing meetings, they are slightly unpredictable in the long-term. I mean this in the best way possible. Our lives are not so predictable, and neither is our work.

Things are a little different now, thanks to a pandemic sweeping the globe, but even now we stay busy helping our clients. Here are some examples of tasks I might do on a daily basis:

  • Check social media notifications for a client
  • Create an infographic for a client
  • Zoom with LaShonda to see what she needs to complete a strategic plan for a client
  • Teams chat with Morgan and the other GAs to discuss our workload and capacity to take on new projects
  • Start research on a specific topic for a client
  • Facilitate or produce a virtual community engagement session

Regardless of what the day brings, there is always one common thread pulling me along: help our clients, help each other and advance the public good in all we do.

The work I do at the PPMC not only contributes to society now, but also equips me to do my job in the future.