Hayley Elszasz

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Hayley Elszasz

Hayley Elszasz is a fourth year PhD candidate in the Department of Politics at the University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Her dissertation research explores how social movements get people involved in climate change action, focusing on communities in the Bay Area of California. 

Hayley previously completed the Foundations and Career Design PhD Plus Modules. She interned with the Weldon Cooper Center’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. 

Q. What are your post-PhD career aspirations? 

I hope to be involved in government and public service, particularly around climate change policy action. I'm also interested in continuing my research about what works to get people activated around climate issues. 

Q. Please summarize your PhD Plus internship 

I applied for this program in order to gain diverse experience working in other parts of the university outside of my home department. From prior experience working in think tanks and NGOs, I have always been interested in how my research skills and expertise can inform policymaking.  I really enjoyed working with the team at Sorensen -- it was a great change of pace to get to work with a team of people all contributing to a common goal. I engaged in collaborative work on grant applications, events planning, and program recruitment for the Political Leaders Program.  

Q. What professional skills did you develop during your internship? 

I worked on different types of writing, specifically writing reports, memos, and funding applications. I also developed communication skills through liaising with the Sorensen team, wider Cooper Center, potential program applicants, and other constituents. I sent emails to and participated in meetings with Sorensen board members and potential program applicants, which helped me build business communications skills.   

Q. How did the internship support your career development? 

It's made me think about working locally. Sorensen focuses on leadership in Virginia, and I admired all of the staff's dedication to improving governance and quality of life in the Commonwealth. The internship also prompted me to think about how I enjoy working with others in a team environment and collaborating on projects: these are factors I might consider in planning my career. 

Q. What advice would you give peers on utilizing PhD Plus internships for career development? 

It's such a great opportunity to try something new and think about diverse career options. It's a chance to build new skills and work in a different environment. The internship was a welcome change of pace from working on my dissertation alone in the library! I got to help plan events and programs that would be implemented in the coming year at Sorensen: a shorter timeline than my typical academic work. Participating in Zoom meetings and emails with Sorensen members and constituents made the work environment very dynamic. No two weeks were the same.  

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