Education for Public Administration: Graduate Preparation in the Social Sciences at American Universities

By George A. Graham | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6 THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS

THE TRAINING PROGRAM of the National Institute of Public Affairs was based upon the principle of learning through doing and observing. In this emphasis, and in its origin in a period of awakening popular interest in the administrative side of government, the institute was reminiscent of the New York Training School for Public Service.1


INTERNSHIP

The interns admitted to the training program spent nine months, September to June, working and studying in Washington. Most of them were assigned to responsible officials in the Washington offices of federal departments and agencies. A few were placed in the office of a member of Congress or in quasi-public organizations.

Three-fourths of the interns had only one internship and continued in the same organization for nine months.2 The remainder changed organizations at least once during the year. Of course, interns who continued in the same bureau or division were usually given a variety of assignments so that their work changed several times throughout the year. The internships were about equally divided between operating divisions, on the one hand, and research or auxiliary staff divisions, on the other. The latter were perhaps more popular, since they were thought more apt to provide experience common to administrative organizations generally and since the perspective was apt to be broader than that of an operating division.3

Much of the success of the internship depended upon the official to whom the student was assigned. He could set the intern to doing routine jobs that lost training value in a few weeks and forget him, or he could provide a rich variety of working experience that illuminated fundamental problems of administration. It was essential that

____________________
1
See above, chap. I, Part II.
2
In the classes for 1936 through 1939, 106 students had more than 140 internship assignments; 75 of these were for the full nine-month period. The internship assignments are listed in a report of the National Institute of Public Affairs, November, 1939 (pages not numbered).
3
See Table 5, p. 199, for an analysis of the internships, 1936-39.

-198-

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