A Data-Driven Summer Internship

Zach Cooper ’21 helps analyze the economic reports that inform the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s positions on legislation.

By: Meghan Kita  Monday, July 27, 2020 08:23 AM

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Zach Cooper ’21, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce intern, outside a small business in Washington, D.C.

Zach Cooper ’21 first applied for his summer internship with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last winter, when it was to be an in-person, full-time role at the Washington, D.C., headquarters. He learned he had an interview for the position the week Muhlenberg sent students home due to COVID-19, and he received word he’d been selected in April, while learning from home.

“I was in the middle of a Zoom class,” says Cooper, a political science major with a history minor. “I saw the email, read it really quick, and jumped out of my chair, celebrating, interrupting the class.”

He’s an economic policy intern, and he and his colleagues are working remotely as the pandemic continues. The Chamber lobbies on behalf of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes: “Whether a business is a Main Street mom-and-pop shop or a major industry leader, it is the Chamber’s mission to advocate for its growth in a very divided Washington,” Cooper says. 

Though he works on many projects, Cooper’s main role involves helping to analyze data from the economic reports that come out several times per week—data on jobs, housing, poverty and other key economic indicators. He and his colleagues “analyze and simplify the stats to help lead our heads of policy to come to a consensus view of what the Chamber thinks of certain congressional or executive acts,” he says.

Even though he’s not physically in the office, Cooper has had a full internship experience. He has been able to meet virtually with the heads of various policy departments once or twice a week to learn what their work consists of and how they work with the economic policy department. He feels a sense of community, among his team and among the Chamber as a whole, that he didn’t expect to feel at such a large organization. While it’s been hard to see some of the data coming in—especially the high unemployment numbers at the beginning of the pandemic—it’s been gratifying to be part of an organization that’s looking out for businesses in an extremely challenging economic time.

“The summer’s gone so fast,” Cooper says. “That’s truly a testament to the great experience I've had working at the Chamber.”