Sandra Guerra is a Management Analyst Trainee at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).
How did you first get into your career field or area of expertise?
I first gained interest in government during my time with Associated Students, Inc. at California State University, Stanislaus. Student leadership and lobbying for higher education introduced me to many people in government agencies and taught me about processes and policies. I felt empowered in listening to the needs of my peers and communicating that with a wide range of government officials and representatives. From then on, I’ve immersed myself in the world of public service, working toward an MPA degree and working for government agencies at all levels.
How did you find out about the GAO?
I found out about GAO in an email blast from an MPA professor, where he shared information about internship opportunities. A quick Google and Glassdoor reviews piqued my interest. Now, it’s a done deal and I’m very happy that I took the time to read that email.
What is an average day like as a Management Analyst Trainee?
A Management Analyst Trainee works in the operations side of GAO. This includes finance and IT, along with many other divisions, but I work for the Human Capital Office.
The majority of my work is related to recruitment efforts. During high recruitment seasons, my day may include multiple virtual career fairs and answering questions about GAO Internships. I attend meetings with high-level managers for GAO and I am asked to share information or participate in conducting interviews. My work also involves collecting and analyzing data that will help GAO identify best recruitment practices and how we can increase diversity. Most days I spend a lot of time communicating with over 200 recruiters throughout the agency – answering questions and helping them prepare for recruitment events.
It really is very exciting to be a point person for recruitment, as an intern, and that I am relied upon by leaders throughout GAO.
Is there anything you find interesting about the GAO that an outsider or someone who isn’t familiar should know?
GAO does an exceptional job of welcoming interns and providing meaningful work experience. When I took this internship, I did so with the expectation that GAO would teach me new skills. I am a trusted member of the team and I have responsibilities beyond secretarial tasks. GAO values interns and their time.
A benefit of interning is not only the work experience, but if the internship is completed successfully, an intern may be considered for conversion. This means that at the end of an internship, if an intern is a good fit, there is a position and funding available, they may be offered a full-time position. The majority of GAO’s entry level positions are filled by former interns.
GAO does an exceptional job of welcoming interns and providing meaningful work experience.
Do you have any advice you could give if someone were to get a position similar to yours at the GAO?
My advice for anyone that receives a similar position within GAO would be:
1. Do your best to meet with managers within your field of interest. You can learn a lot about the functions of the organization, about the skills you need, and possible career paths.
2. Share your needs and interests with your manager. GAO is very supportive of professional growth. It is important to let your supervisor know if the workload is too much, if you need further direction or if you have an interest in learning something new. Supervisors at GAO have been very receptive and have been supportive of my needs and my journey. I would encourage all interns to keep an open line of communication.