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AU Intern Contributes to Books that Shaped Work in America

By Devin Symons

Amanda Kraft, SPA/BA '15

Amanda Kraft, SPA/BA '15.

Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Ayn Rand’s Anthem, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, and Lauren Weisberger’s The Devil Wears Prada. What do these books have in common? They’re all on the list of Books that Shaped Work in America, a list put together by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in commemoration of its 100th anniversary.

“The project is a thoughtful way to draw attention to the way work has influenced the country over the past century, and the ways that the Labor Department supports the U.S. workforce,” says Laura McGinnis, SIS/BA '11, a public affairs specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor.

AU student Amanda Kraft, SPA/BA '15, who has been working on the project as part of her internship with the U.S. Department of Labor, chose the four books named above. A justice and law major, Kraft previously held two internships on Capitol Hill.

“I am also minoring in marketing and art, so when I heard that the Department of Labor was celebrating [its] Centennial this year I thought the DOL would be a great place to get marketing experience,” says Kraft.

“Amanda has been a great addition to the team,” says McGinnis. “She’s been a huge help with this project, and we’re delighted to have her.”

Contributors to the project include eight former secretaries of labor, civil rights leaders, authors, and media personalities, all of whom made their own selections and wrote reviews of those books. Kraft was the only intern to be included as a contributor, and her selections quickly proved to have broad appeal.

“When the site first launched, Amanda was the most popular contributor,” says McGinnis. Her reviews attracted considerable web traffic.

“I was so surprised,” Kraft says of her popularity on the site. “There are so many incredible and famous contributors to the Books that Shaped Work in America project that I think people were interested in seeing which books a student would recommend.”

Kraft continues to be active in social media, including the DOL’s blog and other areas of the department. She says the chance to work closely with full-time staff on various projects has been a valuable one for her.

“The people I work with absolutely love their jobs and the department is so upbeat and positive,” she says. “I am invited to planning meetings and have gained tremendous insight as to how marketing campaigns are formed.”

Kraft credits AU for fostering a sense of engagement among students and providing exceptional opportunities to experience professional environments.  

“American University encourages all students to utilize their unique, Washington, D.C., location and be involved in at least one internship,” she says. “In any given internship class you can have a student next to you that is interning in the Office of the President of the United States and another interning for the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Her advice to AU students thinking about government internships?

“You are there for only a short time to learn and experience the government workplace, so make the most of it … it is amazing how much you learn from each person.”