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  • mrbrefast 9:21 pm on December 13, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: cellular phones, direct democracy, End of internship, , ,   

    Ending my ICMA experience; publication from my internship 

    At the end of a 6 month experience, I am wrapping things up here at ICMA.  There are software bugs to either deal with, or pass to the Technology Project Manager.  There are aspects of other projects which all need to be passed off to the respective proper employees who will continue and build upon what I did.  Due to recent changes in personnel, a lot of my time recently has been (and will continue to be, until this Friday) spent showing folks how to properly use the Knowledge Network as staff who have administrative privileges, rather than as a regular user.


    During the course of my time here, I have gained a much deeper appreciation for the very specific problems and pitfalls faced by local governments everywhere, at a level of specificity I never imagined possible.  I have previously blogged here about very, VERY particular problems faced by governments that I got to learn about the nature of while also learning how one might go about fixing or solving them, and that made for a very interesting experience indeed.  The biggest benefit to being involved with the new Knowledge Network here was being at the nexus of so many different initiatives, from public safety improvement initiatives to international development work, to everything in between.  It was all routed through the website, and our users asked questions about all manner of concerns, both within the work that ICMA has already gotten involved in, and to other areas which we hadn’t even considered before; it all made for a dynamic work environment.  Having the office building itself be located near Union Station was also a great aspect to an internship for an AU student (it is on the Red Line of the Metro, and not very far from Tenleytown, making working half a day on Tuesdays this fall, followed by class in the evening, a viable possibility).  In many ways, I learned quite a lot at ICMA, and am grateful for the opportunity to have been there.  Tellingly, amongst the most important lessons learned were those of “yes I do want to work in a non-profit of some sort” and the same time “no, I do not want to work in government at any level,” just based on closely learning what is involved (I like traveling too much to stay in one place!).


    Finally, though I will have to edit this in upon publication in the coming weeks, the following is the link to my final publication from ICMA, regarding Cell Phones and Direct Democracy, is as follows:

    (link forthcoming in early 2011)


    Thanks to the AU Career Center for allowing me to blog here, and good luck to all those in-progress and prospective interns out there!

  • mrbrefast 11:54 pm on November 15, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Professional careers, Specialization, town-and-gown, universities   

    A new appreciation for the complexities of everyday life – Town-and-Gown 

    Today seemed like it would be the normal Monday I was expecting, in that I would come to work, take care of any questions posted by ICMA members on the website, and do some weekly upkeep of website details, followed by diving in to get a lot more of my paper done.  As it turns out, I ended up having an involved phone discussion with a woman involved in the field of Town-and-Gown, which I only barely knew about before.  Town-and-gown refers to those local governments which have a college or university within their jurisdiction, and is surprisingly far more involved than I have previously realized.  That is why I would like to do today’s post about how my time here at ICMA in general, working on the various oddly specific problems encountered by local governments, has been very interesting and informative (I could TOTALLY win at Trivial Pursuit: Local Government). (More …)

  • mrbrefast 5:39 pm on November 8, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cubicle life, , , noise   

    All the noise, noise, noise… 

    There comes a time in every cubicle-dwellers life when they encounter The Noise.  I am not referring to the Irish pagan deity; nor am I referring to the 2007 film.  No, my friends, I refer to those days when the amount of noise coming from the cubicle oh so nearby could be anything from a Cannibal Corpse concert, to a military weapons testing field, to a full-fledged riot.  It is difficult to work on one’s cell phones/direct democracy paper effectively when (and I quote myself from last Friday, to a coworker) it sounds like “the only possible way her keyboard could be that loud is if its method of interface is to put Captain Crunch cereal out in the desert sun for a day, and then onto the keyboard, and making her smash the cereal with a pair of mallets.  If I walk over there and it is anyone but Conan The Barbarian battle-crying and screaming, I will be genuinely surprised.”  I therefore have to pose a genuine question: how does one deal with the aforementioned level of noise, noise, noise from coworkers without becoming

    (More …)

  • mrbrefast 4:47 pm on November 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: buzz words, clarity of meaning, , , , linguistics   

    6 Month Mark Today! 

    To start with a bit of justified awe, I started working at ICMA all the way back in May; it is genuinely difficult for me to believe that today marks the beginning of November.  I have been enrolled in anywhere from 1 to 3 graduate courses while working at ICMA during this time, so it has certainly been a busy period of time for me.  During that time, I have been able to pick out many of the nuances of the 40 hour/week+ working world in general, and of linguistics in specific: that is why for this post, I would like to discuss how sometimes, people say:

    but do not necessarily make a clear point.  Given all of my prior internship experience, and the aspects of my current job that rely upon electronic communications with internal and external parties, I specifically refer to this problem when it happens in emails and perhaps through publications, and have a few suggestions on how to deal with this problem (philosophy education, to the rescue!). (More …)

  • mrbrefast 4:51 pm on October 25, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Case of the Mondays, , , Interpersonal relations   

    Having a case of the Mondays. 

    To those of you who have been so deprived as to not have seen Office Space, the source of the allusion in the title of this post, my pity and sorrow rest with you at this hour.

    For the rest of you, however, I bring news of something we all have experienced one time or another: a case of the Mondays.  Rendered from sarcasm to real problem, this is not entirely out of the realm of possibility; nothing like having to wake up early after a lengthy weekend of any number of things (from homework to logistical concerns, from fun to not sleeping enough) and be productive.  The subject of a great number of jokes, comics, and so forth, this problem is usually lampooned at length, but never really dealt with directly.  Now, even though there are degrees of suffering on Monday, some worse than others, we all know how it can be.  Some people in my office have some pretty good methods of starting the work week more successfully, and in ways that are constructive, and I would like to share them here. (More …)

    • Jess 3:21 pm on October 26, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      I like this, thanks for the interesting tips. Several of my colleagues and I actually do the news trick too when we first get in in the morning. Part of my job is actually to read the Indonesian news and it is usually pretty fascinating and quick-paced, so it is a great start to my day!

    • lara 1:56 pm on November 1, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      these are great tips! i definitely try to set my week up right with my coffee from my favorite place. it helps!!

  • mrbrefast 8:07 pm on October 18, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , justice, postmodernism   

    “The blind leading the blind” – ethical unease when discussing “development” in the office 

    As I posted about previously, I am spending most of my time in the office week on a paper of great interest to me: cell phones and direct democracy.  Unfortunately, though, I have a conundrum of ethics with this paper, one which I have not yet figured out: although (mercifully) the international wing of my office is called “ICMA International” and doesn’t include the word “development,” said nasty word is made use of in their “About” page which serves as a mini-Mission Statement for themselves, under the umbrella of ICMA’s overall Mission Statement.  The Biblical allusion which serves as the title to this post, “the blind leading the blind,” is only the barest of apt descriptions.  As far as my years of study as well as personal experience can inform me, more than just the blind leading the blind, the process of international “development” is more along the lines of trying to toss a thimble through a Cheerio while riding on a unicycle; (More …)

  • mrbrefast 9:47 pm on October 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: democracy, , , , philosophy, provision of services, writing from another's perspective   

    Juggling with democracy: preparing to write my next paper here 

    This week and next week are both odd for me, here at ICMA.  Today is Columbus Day, and we actually have work (it is a long story, but we have a tradition of enough people requesting to take the Columbus Day holiday off on Black Friday, after Thanksgiving, that they made it official policy).  That makes for an odd start to an odd week: most of the office is telecommuting today, and the Union Station area of DC is VERY uncharacteristically empty and lifeless.  The rest of this week, however, will involve the majority of our office doing the last-minute preparations for our annual conference next week, which is to be held in San Jose.  With all of this hustle and bustle going on, I am nonetheless sitting here at my desk with a stack of philosophy, some theology, and then a variety of international development literature, all for the purposes of my next paper for work.  This paper, however, is different than the others I have written here, and for several reasons.

    (More …)

  • mrbrefast 7:35 pm on October 7, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: collaboration, , , , meetings, ,   

    Social media: fun for personal use, but important for professional use too 

    By even writing this blog post, I am participating in one kind of social media in a semi-professional way (given that it is for the Career Center), but that serves as an introduction to the topic at hand.  About a month ago, I was published for the second time here at work, as one of the authors of a report entitled Local Government Use of Social Media to Prepare for Emergencies.  As the title implies, the report looks into the innovations of several local governments in making use of social media as part of their comprehensive emergency management plans.  Examples of this include things like using Twitter for updates about inclement weather and power outages; using Facebook pages to update the community on the progress of snowplows; and then having short blog posts reminding citizens to have enough water and food on hand during an emergency situation.  As a side note, but one worth mentioning, this entire process of using social media has some serious ethical implications of equal provision of emergency management services for citizens of lesser economic means; bearing this in mind, the report is written very clearly as a suggestion to include social media as a valuable addition to the emergency management services of a municipality, meaning those other services (such as having a toll-free hotline for contact) need to be continued as well.


    This is a very professional (as opposed to personal) use of social media, by local government, but it also serves as some good indications of why it is worth getting involved in social media in a presentable way, for the purposes of networking and improving one’s chances of making the right impression to get a job.  As such, I have a short list, based on in-house discussions, of how social media figures into a job interview or working at an internship.


    (More …)

  • mrbrefast 7:48 pm on September 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Diversity, , Expectations, , small group meetings   

    Variations on a theme: Diversity in the Workplace 

    As a student of American University, we often learn about the vital importance of a pluralistic society, wherein people of all types (be that gender, age, ethnicity, &c. ad infinitum) can coexist and thrive together no matter the challenges that approach them.  As I mentioned previously in a post on this blog, I attended AU at the undergraduate level as well, so I have received all sorts of wisdom and insights into the process of enabling various groups of people to live and work together successfully, but there are times when the direct skills or knowledge one has about diversity can simply fail to carry the day when attempting to implement it.  I am not speaking about problems of accepting difference of gender, race, or the like – my office here at ICMA is actually quite diverse, and we all get along extremely well along those lines.  The problem I refer to is one of different ages, and the effects that ends up having on learning, communication, and by far most importantly: expectations about learning and communication. (More …)

  • mrbrefast 6:42 pm on September 22, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    The same place; a new face 

    Greetings, salutations, willkomen, bienvenue, hello, howdy, &c.

    In agreeing to write for this blog, I look forward to the chance because it will offer the possibility of introspection about this internship, and also about this internship in comparison with others I have worked over the years at AU.  My name is Michael A. Repas, I am a BA/MA student, and I commenced from AU undergraduate coursework this past May.  My undergraduate education was a double major in International Relations and Philosophy, with an attached minor in Computer Science.  I simultaneously worked on, and am continuing to pursue, a degree from the Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs (EPGA) graduate program.  It is interdisciplinary, like the rest of my education, and this theme will be mirrored in my choice of internship, as well as my duties therein.  The specific concentration I am pursuing within the EPGA program is also worth noting: it is entitled “The Ethics of Development,” and this will also have bearing on my choice of workplace.  It is especially important for me, as this is my MA Internship, which in the Philosophy department functions as an alternative to doing a traditional MA Thesis (it still involves a substantive bit of writing, just with the practical experiences of an internship guiding the paper).

    And so, having explained all sorts of academic reasoning for the current internship position I hold, allow me to actually introduce it.  (More …)

    • David Fletcher 4:17 am on September 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply

      Interning and blogging seem so interconnected that I am surprised when employers do not encourage it. Okay maybe Homeland Security, the CIA, and law firms don’t want confidential or secret information to be broadcast on the worldwide web, but for most organizations it is useful/beneficial to seek marketing outreach and free publicity through social media.

      Very happy to see ICMA embrace technology and provide transparency at the same time. Great work Michael and best of luck!

      • fblume 5:43 pm on September 27, 2010 Permalink | Reply

        I’m really looking forward to reading more. This is a really interesting topic. You can’t be a peacenik (or a warnik, I suppose) without appreciating the need for finances. It took a lot of money to keep Gandhi poor. The ethics of development, of fundraising, is really complicated. Do you take money from liquor companies? Tobacco companies? How to you create avenues for people to feel involved in the work or an organization through their financial support? How much do you spend to raise money? Tell us more!

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