I'm officially no longer an employee at NIH. I apparently didn't learn my lesson about working for Uncle Sam because I'm headed off into the "Wild and Wacky World of Science Policy" during a one year AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship at USAID (Agency for International Development). Yep, more government!
The AAAS fellowship places scientists and engineers in congress and at many agencies, not just USAID, in and around D.C. The fellowship has been going now for 40 years strong with the biggest incoming class this year. With many past fellows finding new homes in policy the DC area, there's a cadre of AAAS alums with fingers and toes in all aspects of the government.
The fellowship year starts off with the 'hallmark' AAAS orientation -- a two week intensive introduction to the ways and means of the US government. It is intensive. Everyone was pretty exhausted after the first week... and it was only a 3 day week! I'm worried about next week.
I have learned a whole lot, though I can't say I'm optimistic about government efficiency. I have, however, gained an appreciation for WHY it is inefficient. I've learned more in the three days about US History than I did during my US History class and Government class combined. Sorry, Ms. Gilbert-Rolfe and Mr. Mullen.
I've also met more people in the last three days that I can possibly remember - a couple marine biologists, a particle physicist from CREN (yes, he was part of the team who found the Higgs Boson... and NO, he couldn't explain to me what the Higgs Boson is besides something to fill a mathematical hole), a couple of Ag people, ex-NIHers and so-to-be NIHers, and a myriad of others hailing from Alaska to Florida. I SO wish I was one of those people who was good with names. I better get better fast... cuz in this town it is definitely who you know and I'll be meeting many more in the very near future!!