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Victoria Crawford flourishes in internship with International Economic Development Council

September 14, 2023

Author: Audrianna Wilde

Woman standing infront of the US Capital building

From Undergraduate Research Scholar to Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, Victoria Crawford has expanded her horizons from Ohio University’s campus to the Washington D.C. city skyline. As the 2023 Jeffrey A. Finkle Ohio University Economic Development Intern with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), Crawford had the opportunity to delve deeper into her passion for economic development and international relations and pair the two while gaining hands-on experience.

As an undergraduate student, Crawford’s role as a Voinovich Research Scholar entailed working on economic development initiatives. It was through this work, along with her coursework for her B.A. in Political Science, Certificate in War and Peace Studies and Certificate in Wealth and Poverty, that Crawford was drawn into public service and learned about the opportunity to intern at IEDC through the help of Dr. Jason Jolley, MPA program director and professor. As she prepared to move to D.C. for a month during the summer, she looked forward to exploring the intersection of her interests in a professional setting.

“It definitely exceeded my expectations in the sense that I have been able to connect with other economic developers that come from diverse backgrounds,” Crawford said. “Just getting to meet people and hear their stories and network was really helpful.”

After invaluable time spent in the nation’s capital, the remainder of Crawford’s internship was online, so she headed home to continue working on her research and writing.

Navigating a hybrid-style internship presented its challenges, however, Crawford utilized support from Jeff Finkle, the Voinovich School's Appalachian New Economy Partnership Fellow. Crawford remarked Finkle’s wealth of experience, leadership and expertise in the economic development field was monumental in assisting her as she worked to complete her internship experience, and he inspired her throughout.

“It was a challenge going from being in the office in D.C. to working from home because I think that motivation factor can be kind of hard,” Crawford said. “But I think the way that IEDC had it structured, with having meetings with people, I didn’t feel like I was going at it alone online. I was always interacting with someone, so it felt like I was in the office still, just online.”

During the span of Crawford’s internship, she was responsible for assembling large-scale research reports at a fast pace. Eager to improve her writing skills to keep up with her workload, Crawford soon learned how to be concise yet effective in her communications.

Looking back, she was thankful for the Voinovich School’s economic development team, namely Clara Bone, senior project manager, and Dr. Jolley, for the assignments they entrusted her with as a scholar, which greatly prepared her for work with IEDC.

Not only has Crawford been able to expand her research skills throughout her internship, she has had the chance to get involved in several exciting projects that align with her passion for public service.

“I worked on a few different projects,” Crawford said. “One was the equity impact investments curriculum, which is a curriculum that will be delivered to economic development professionals looking to create partnerships with community-based organizations.”

Looking to the future, Crawford hopes to return to D.C. after completing her degree. For now, she will continue to develop her leadership skills in her master’s program while she builds upon the valuable connections she has made through the Voinovich School. For incoming Voinovich scholars and students, Crawford noted these connections are what she has found to be the key to success, inside the classroom, at internships and beyond.

“Talk to professors, they have a wealth of knowledge to give,” Crawford said. “That's part of the reason why they're there, is to teach and help you get connected to other people.”