AEA365 | A Tip-a-Day by and for Evaluators



Alison Mendoza and Yusuf Ransome on GEDI Intern Reflections of the AEA Annual Conference

We are Alison Mendoza and Yusuf Ransome, interns in AEA’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) program.  GEDI interns are graduate students in various disciplines in the social sciences who, through a nine-month internship and participation in various workshops throughout the year, gain hands-on experience in evaluation. GEDI interns also receive support from experienced mentors both at their internship site and at their school.  Alison is a 2nd year master’s student at the University of North Carolina’s Gillings School of Global Public Health in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Yusuf is a 2nd year doctoral student at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in the Department of Sociomedical Sciences

For us, the experience of attending the annual conference was gratifying and helped us realize our potential as future evaluators. We felt like evaluation was “demystified”; in essence, we came to understand what it was all about. In particular, Yusuf’s experience moderating his very first focus group at the conference left him feeling like there was a place in evaluation for him.

Based on our experiences, we wanted to offer a few hot tips and cool tricks for grad students and new evaluators that we learned at the conference.

Hot Tip: Make connections!  Evaluation, like many fields, is largely based on who you know.  Although it can be intimidating walking into a room of seasoned professionals, we’ve found that most people will eagerly engage in conversation–sharing advice and information about opportunities for new graduates entering the field of evaluation.  Immerse yourself in all the activities and events as much as you can. Also, invest in business cards!

Hot Tip: Always have your resume/CV updated and ready to distribute. It could be that a new acquaintance will request that you to send it to them, and may even volunteer to hand-deliver it to HR.

Hot Tip: Coordinate and share resources. The conference can be very overwhelming; there are just too many events for one person to attend all. So, if you are attending with friends, split up and coordinate the sessions that you all attend. That way you can share resources with each other.

Cool Trick: Use what you know!  Alison is finding that her past public health experience in participatory workshop facilitation, community engagement, and program planning have helped her develop similar skills that are necessary for collaborative evaluation.

Thank you for reading about our experience, we look forward to seeing you there next year!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. This is a shortly monthly series highlighting contributions from AEA’s Graduate Education Diversity Internship (GEDI) Program and its interns. You can learn more about the GEDI program by visiting its webpage. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.


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