Intern Perspectives: Olivia Wood

The stereotypical internship involves a lot of getting coffee for people and menial labor that everyone else is too important to do. As my summer at OCTAE draws to a close, I’m happy to say that it was actually my coworkers who were kind enough to ask me to coffee, and even while I was collating 150 event packets for the White House CTE Convening, my supervisor and the head of my division were both there stacking papers with me.

This summer, I’ve had the privilege not only of collating papers at the White House, but also of seeing the First Lady, attending a meeting at a Senate office building, witnessing the behind-the-scenes action of so much of OCTAE’s work, and meeting dozens of intelligent and incredibly impressive Career and Technical Education (CTE) students.

My coworkers—from other members of my branch and my cubicle neighbors, to Acting Assistant Secretary Johan Uvin himself—have been so wonderful, always taking time to introduce themselves and ask if I’ve been enjoying my time at OCTAE.

At the beginning of the summer, I expected to be allowed to sit in on meetings and conference calls, but I didn’t expect to be asked my opinion afterwards. I expected to write blog posts, but I didn’t expect to edit speeches given in front of hundreds of people, or to be asked for feedback on important documents before they were released.

As I filled out the introductory paperwork back in April, I found myself thinking “Why me? Why not any other undergrad with good grades and half a degree?”.  I’ve learned a lot from this experience about CTE, office life, and the everyday workings of the federal government, but I’ve also learned something about myself: that even at 19 years old, my experience with writing and editing is still valuable to others, and that I do have a unique skill set with which to contribute to the world around me.

In an internship filled with coffee runs and generic office tasks, I never would have discovered that. However, the College and Career Transitions branch and the Division of Academic and Technical Education had faith in me, and treated me like an employee—a very young, very inexperienced employee—but an employee nonetheless who was hired for a reason, just like anyone else.

Olivia Wood is a junior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro majoring in English and cultural anthropology. This summer, she interned with OCTAE’S College and Career Transitions branch. Prospective interns apply during the semester preceding their internship term and are encouraged to select three offices within the Department in which they would prefer to work. The Department of Education accepts applications from all students 16 and older enrolled in classes at least half-time at an accredited educational institution. For more information about internships at the Department of Education, please click here.

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Olivia Wood is a summer intern for the College and Career Transitions branch of the Division of Academic and Technical Education in the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Recap of Twitter Town Hall at COABE

Check out @NCLAdvocacy on Twitter for the Question and Answer period of the Twitter Town Hall with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Division of Adult Education and Literacy Director Cheryl Keenan. Below are two hot topics discussed:


Q: What is OVAE’s plan about PIAAC, what are you going to do? Does OVAE have plans to help bring media attention to the PIAAC release?

A: PIAAC release is great chance to spotlight adult education issues. OVAE is developing a framework for a bold plan to transform adult education nationwide.


Q: Adult Ed through technology is great but how and with who?

A: [We are] Partnering with the Department of Energy and others to move it forward. A good model is Project IDEAL’s training of distance education teachers. We are also looking at digital badges, certifications issued to participators in online communities and courses, and how they can provide professional recognition. Share your best practices with OVAE!

See the archive of the Town Hall event here.

Not Just One, But Many Lessons

Parents can start teaching children as young as two about money, and there is no age cutoff. So says the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability (PACFC) in their final report released last week. The report provides recommendations to improve the understanding of personal financial management and underscores the importance of teachers and schools in providing a sound financial education.

The work of the council resulted in numerous products available to educators and the public, including a toolkit for increasing the financial capability of students in K-12 and postsecondary education, and an online resource,, with 20 things kids need to know to live financially smart lives.

The report from the council includes a recommendation to integrate important aspects of personal finance into the teaching of Common Core State Standards for K-12 education. The release of the report was announced in a March 21 article on the Treasury Department’s website.

OVAE complements the PACFC with an initiative to develop, implement, and evaluate the effectiveness of financial education materials and teacher training in high schools to help students gain the knowledge and skills to make sound personal finance decisions as they transition into careers and postsecondary education.

Join an #AdultEd Twitter Town Hall with OVAE Leaders

Join a Twitter Town Hall, sponsored by the National Coalition for Literacy, Tuesday, March 26 from 9:15-10:30 am EST, with Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier and Division of Adult Education and Literacy Director Cheryl Keenan. The event is hosted at the Commission on Adult Basic Education’s conference (COABE) happening in New Orleans March 24-28, 2013.

The Town Hall will be taking questions from the live audience and from Twitter and Facebook. Participate by tweeting questions and comments using the hashtags #coabe13 and #adulted. Follow @NCLAdvocacy and @COABEnews. These organizations will be tweeting questions raised by their followers and answers to questions discussed during the Twitter Town Hall.

Watch the OVAE Blog for a recap of the Town Hall.


Everyone On! Campaign for Digital Literacy

OVAE joins other federal partners in promoting digital literacy and broadband access through the Connect2Compete Ad Council campaign, Everyone On!, which launched on March 21. OVAE recognizes that for learners to be prepared for further education and 21st century jobs, digital literacy is an absolutely critical skill.

Connect2Compete is a unique collaboration of government, corporate, philanthropic and community leaders committed to harnessing technology, especially the transformational power of the Internet, to improve the lives of Americans and their ability to thrive in the global economy. The effort is an outgrowth of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Plan which recommended innovative public-private partnerships to increase the penetration of broadband in America as an economic driver and as a social equity issue.

Connect2Compete has partnered with the Ad Council for the campaign, offering media “spots” and materials featuring celebrities and motivational reasons to get “on.”

OVAE contributed nearly a thousand locations of adult digital literacy training programs to Connect2Compete’s unique locator tool. These locations are part of America’s Literacy Directory, maintained on the LINCS website. The adult education locations join over 20,000 others sites of digital literacy training nationwide. Other agencies contributing data and promoting the launch include the Department of Labor’s Career One Stop Centers, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Department of Commerce “BTOP” grantees, and the Department of Agriculture’s 4-H sites.

To view the public service announcements, visit

Save the Date: OVAE’s 2013 Community College Webinar Series Continues on April 10!

OVAE is hosting a series of community college webinars in 2013, in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT), to bring together experts from the field and local practitioners to discuss some of the key challenges these institutions face and highlight promising institutional practices and policy changes from around the country that aim to increase postsecondary student success.

The second event in this series will be held on Wednesday, April 10 from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. ET.  This 90-minute webinar will explore promising community college correctional and re-entry education models from across the country. Fred Patrick from the Vera Institute of Justice will discuss the Vera-led Pathways from Prison to Postsecondary Education Project that aims to expand access to higher education for incarcerated and recently released individuals.  Brian Walsh from Peninsula Community College will present on the efforts of his institution to provide technology-enabled integrated basic education and skills training to inmates at Clallam Bay Corrections Center in Washington State.  The webinar will also highlight the partnership between Hostos Community College and the Center for Employment Opportunities (CEO), called CEO Academy, which provides accelerated basic education and occupational training opportunities to ex-offenders in New York City.

Registration information for this webinar will be sent out in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!

Career Pathways Webcast Double Header at COABE

Join U.S. Department of Education Department of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) Director, Cheryl Keenan and a panel of experts at the 2013 the Commission on Adult Basic Education (COABE) and The Louisiana Association for Public, Community, and Adult Education (LAPCAE) Conference in New Orleans as they discuss key topics on developing high-quality Adult Career Pathways programs during two new live Adult Career Pathways Training and Support Center (ACP-SC) Premiere Webcasts.  Be sure to watch and participate on March 27, 2013 when Cheryl Keenan, Director of the Division of Adult Education and Literacy at OVAE, facilitates:

  • Integrating Career Planning and Counseling for Adult Career Pathways (9:30AM CT) and
  • Designing Contextualized Instruction for Career Pathways (11:15AM CT).

The ACP-SC Premieres Webcasts Series is part of the federally funded Designing Instruction for Career Pathways initiative. To register, go to the events page on the ACP-SC website from March 11-27, 2013. If you have questions for the panelists post them to the ACP-SC Facebook page or Tweet them using the hashtag #CreatePathways. View the last two webcasts online at For additional information, email

Career Pathways in Construction and Healthcare Feed Employment Demand

The U.S. Department of Labor reported that the economy added 236,000 non-farm jobs in February, according to their preliminary figures.   Industries that added workers in Career and Technical Education pathways include Construction, Healthcare, Leisure and Hospitality, and the Motion Picture and Sound Recording Industries.

Industries with the most workers added to payrolls in the last month include:

  • +44,100   Admninistrative and Waste Services
  • +39,100   Health care and Social Assistance
  • +31,700   Specialty Trade Contractors
  • +23,700   Retail Trade
  • +20,800   Motion Picture and Sound Recording
  • +26,800   Professional and Technical Services
  • +20,600   Accomodations and Food Services

Industries with largest reductions in the number of workers in the last month include:

  • -31,700    Electronics and Appliance Stores
  • -14,700    Educational Services
  • -10,000    Government

Visit to see the press release, access employment figures by industry, and dig deeper into state and local data.

Employment figures based on preliminary data reported by BLS for February 2013.

How OVAE Celebrated 2013 CTE Month

Just like CTE students, teachers, and administrators, OVAE celebrates CTE every day of every month.  However, during the month of February the pride is elevated with celebration and recognition for all that is CTE during “CTE Month”.

We used CTE Month 2013 as an opportunity to collaborate with our colleagues across the U.S. Department of Education (ED) as well as our dedicated professional associations.  We shared the message that it was CTE month and CTE Works! (this year’s theme as designated by the Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE)).  It seemed that no workspace or office in OVAE was spared a CTE Month poster to hang with pride.  We made sure to say “Happy CTE Month!” in our phone calls, office meetings, and every chance we had.

Secretary Arne Duncan, Deputy Secretary Tony Miller, Undersecretary Martha Kanter, and Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier all contributed to the OVAE Connection newsletter; supporting articles were also sent through the Teaching Matters newsletter and Homeroom, ED’s official blog.

We were excited and proud to see two CTE students were sitting in the First Lady’s box at President Obama’s State of the Union address.

The week of February 11th saw an increased volume of social media buzz about how CTE professionals and CTSO students were celebrating CTE Month.  On my own hand held device, I read tweets and updates at #CTEMonth and #CareerTech.

ED staff also attended a student recognition event at McKinley Technology High School, which houses a STEM-focused CTE program where students have the opportunity to select one of four pathways in a STEM-related strand. The strands provide students with relevant, real-world project-based learning opportunities that prepare them for postsecondary education and 21st century careers.

On February 21st, ED hosted a policy briefing to all agency staff on how CTE is addressing the nation’s skills gap.  The session included a pair of conversations – one with educators and business leaders, and a second with Career and Technical Students Organizations (CTSO) participants. Check out the blog post recapping the briefing.

Finally, the Secretary visited the Harbor School in New York City, a CTE school that prepare students for success in college and careers through restoration of the local marine environment.

As you can see, OVAE enjoyed celebrating CTE Month and looks forward to celebrating 2014 CTE Month with you next year!

Robin Utz is the Director of the College and Career Transitions Branch in the Division of Academic and Technical Education at OVAE

OVAE Hosts First Event in 2013 Community College Webinar Series

OVAE hosted the first event in its 2013 Community College Webinar Series on Thursday, March 7, in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) and the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).  This first event focused on transforming adult education to better prepare adult learners to successfully transition to postsecondary education and training.  Over 380 stakeholders from community and technical colleges, community based organizations, state and local government, four-year colleges and universities, and workforce development organizations took part in the webinar.  For those of you who could not participate in the live event, or would like to view the webinar or presentation again, the recorded webinar and presentation will be archived in the coming days on OVAE’s website at

Assistant Secretary Brenda Dann-Messier noted, “This was a fantastic start to OVAE’s Community College Webinar Series. The number of participants and the thoughtful questions asked illustrated the importance of the topic and the level of interest from the field!  We are looking forward to this ongoing engagement in our future events.”

OVAE’s 2013 Community College Webinar Series will continue next month with an event on April 10 that examines the role community colleges can play in correctional and re-entry education.  More information on this event, along with the registration link, will be shared in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned!