Susanna Niu ’24

U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Washington, D.C.

This summer, I worked as a volunteer intern in the Department of Labor, OSHA division. Due to the pandemic, this was my first in-person internship. I was very excited to experience the Department of Labor’s workplace environment. My supervisor, director and coworkers were extremely supportive and welcoming to me and my fellow intern. We were immediately included in the projects that each team was working on. At first, I was a little overwhelmed by the different government acronyms and OSHA’s standards and policies. However, my director and supervisor were great about scheduling orientation interviews with our coworkers and the different departments within OSHA.

Within OSHA, I worked in the Office of General Industry and Agriculture Enforcement (OGIAE), which is a part of the Directorate of Enforcement Programs (DEP). The DEP supports OSHA’s policy enforcement through vehicles such as directives and interpretations. Within OGIAE, we wrote policies that dealt directly with general industries and agriculture. This summer, the office was particularly focused on targeting serious offenders and decreasing workplace fatalities, injuries and illnesses. Teams in OGIAE were charged with writing different policies that supported their goal. Although I was able to jump in on the writing portion of the policy making, I found much of the specifics in these policies to be complicated. However, I learned through listening to the conversations of my coworkers. Another exciting portion of my internship was the case hearings that I listened in on. These hearings gave me a better understanding of the workings of OSHA and the Department of Labor.

Besides helping with the existing projects, I also worked on my own project, which was an initiative. First, I researched the feasibility of the topic through a deep dive into the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). I had a bit of difficulty working with the numbers and charts that I pulled from BLS. Thankfully, both my supervisor and director were very knowledgeable and helpful. They guided me through my analyzing process. After getting a good understanding of the numbers, my director and I scheduled multiple meetings with other directors and coworkers so that we could decide on the angle that we wanted to use for the initiative. Throughout the process, I connected with many coworkers outside of my immediate office. After an analysis of the data, I wrote the initiative. Again, my supervisor and director gave me examples of other initiatives to look over. I was able to incorporate a lot of the language in other initiatives into my own. In the last week of my internship, after rewrites and edits, the initiative was sent to the other directors and the solicitors’ office for clearance.

In addition to learning and participating in OSHA’s work, this internship also taught me to converse with others in an office setting. I gained soft skills and a confidence that I find to be extremely valuable. I am very grateful to the ’68 Center for giving me the opportunity to pursue this internship.