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This year, I had the opportunity to work as an Enumerator for the U.S Census Bureau.

I first heard about the opportunity at the end of my first-year summer from one of Dartmouth's employment boards (where internship and job opening are posted each term). Reading the description, I realized the job was a perfect fit for me—they offered flexible hours, good pay, and the chance to work with a government agency in a project done only once every ten years. The job, more specifically, was to knock on doors throughout the city and surrounding areas to interview residents to find out how many people lived there. This information will then be used to distribute government resources and determine the number of House Representatives. It was exciting, meaningful work.

So, just a week or two after applying I heard back and scheduled an interview, submitted my resume, and got to learn more about the Census through remote workshops. Within a month I had completed my training and, with my government-issued cell phone and backpack, I headed out to the streets of Albuquerque, NM and started counting.

Because of the pandemic, my coworkers and I had to follow lots of safety guidelines to make sure everyone—us and the people we interacted with—were not at risk. This meant respecting social distancing when we knocked on doors, wearing masks, and opting to call people instead of visiting them whenever possible. Thankfully, we were still able to work in teams throughout the day, which made it easier to tackle large apartment complexes and neighborhoods.

Since we were out in town on our own or with a small group for most of the day—our managers only checking in at the end of the day— it was up to us to decide how we would get through our assignments. With time our teams got better and better at working together, which is how we were able to finish counting Albuquerque earlier than the (shortened) national deadline.

Working for the Census taught me a lot. For one thing, I was able to see how differently people lived throughout the city—how wide the discrepancies between poor and affluent neighborhoods, and between rural and urban areas really is. Though this is something I knew in theory, seeing it in person gave me a new perspective and helped me better understand how government, and the Census in particular, can help bridge the gaps. So, in short, being an Enumerator was a fascinating experience.

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