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Thread: What makes a good internship program?

  1. #1
    Cyburbian graciela's avatar
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    What makes a good internship program?

    I am looking for examples of good internship programs, particularly at the local government level.

    We are looking into formalizing our internship program a bit more than it is currently. We need more structure and less "word of mouth" in regards to the application process. A good balance in workload ie: time at copier ratio to time in GIS.

    Does anyone have an internship program that seems to work really well?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian DrumLineKid's avatar
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    The community for whom I once worked (is that stiff...) relied on the local colleges & universities. There were probably 20 in an hour drive. We always paid for their time & budgeted for two per summer. We told them (at least I did) when they came in that we were going to beat the hell out of them, but they would go away knowing something. We didn't limit them to Planning programs, we had LA's, Accounting, history, you name it. We used JobMart one year & ended up with someone from MIT Planning. (I see her name on the net occassionally) Have them do the tiresome things your office doesn't have the patience for, business visits to document job creation, basic neighborhood analysis for future programming (it was a CD office too). Send them into the fray immediately, support them when they flounder, and see what comes about. Not the day to day plan review, but the basic research for some larger project.

    We did focus a few lost souls. A few went into Planning that hadn't considered it before, the accountant picked up her first job based on the experience she had. That internship was also the way I broke my way into public service.

    IMHO............

    DLK
    "There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed." RFK

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Clore's avatar
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    My internship ( while in it) seemed like a high copier part of the ratio. However, I evesdropped on every phone call I could and picked up any scrap of info I could. I came away from it with a lot learned. Looking back on it, I wish I could have gone to more public meetings and committee type of dealings, as well as meetings with agency officials.
    I was given chances to take a stab at ordinance writing, which was a great skill to learn. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to use all of my newly-learned skills and I felt like I wasn't appreciated for the cutting-edge knowledge that I obtained. Today, if it were my choice, I would pick the brains of interns because some of them have really up-to-date resources that after a few years, we've fallen out of touch with. They bring new knowledge and technology to the table which can really improve efficiency. I think they're a great resource at a low cost, so maximize them. I agree with "throw them into the fray and support them when they flounder" you just might be surprised with their insight and skill level.
    ...Moving at the speed of local government

  4. #4
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I thought I'd bump this thread because I'm interested in setting up some type of internship program here at my place of work in a local government. Perhaps not now, but I'd like to start laying the groundwork. In terms of setting this up and "selling" it to those who will give the go ahead, I'm curious about the following.

    1. Should the internship be unpaid, paid (hourly or a stipend at the end)?

    2. If paid (or a stipend), what type of pay is reasonable?

    3. What's the average length of time for a typical internship?

    Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

  5. #5
    Forums Administrator & Gallery Moderator NHPlanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    I thought I'd bump this thread because I'm interested in setting up some type of internship program here at my place of work in a local government. Perhaps not now, but I'd like to start laying the groundwork. In terms of setting this up and "selling" it to those who will give the go ahead, I'm curious about the following.

    1. Should the internship be unpaid, paid (hourly or a stipend at the end)?

    2. If paid (or a stipend), what type of pay is reasonable?

    3. What's the average length of time for a typical internship?

    Any other thoughts or comments would be appreciated.
    Our internship program (which I administer) is set up as follows:

    1. Paid.
    2. We budget $5000 for the Planning Intern. We set it up as a part-time hourly position with no benefits.
    3. Generally 3 months for us. The length of the internship depends on the time available from the intern, and how we set up the hourly rate. (We ask the applicant what they want to be paid per hour, and once the $5K is gone, the position ends). Typically we've been paying $10 per hour.

    Additional Comments - We try to have a specific project lined up for the intern as well. for the past few summers our interns have:
    • Done a business inventory and classified all of them with NAICS codes.
    • Developed a Conservation Subdivision Ordinance
    • Developed revisions to our sign and parking ordinances
    • Developed a GIS inventory of all municipal signage

    We've found that having a specific project gets us better applicants, with a particular interest in the summer's project. In addition to the project work, I have the interns work with me on project review and other daily Planning Department tasks, as time allows.

    Below is a sample of a past job ad. Good luck!

    Planning Intern:

    Department: Planning & Economic Development Dept.
    Duration: May-Aug. 05
    Salary: DOQ, funds available range from $2500 to $5000
    Hours/Week: 40
    • Project: To assist the planning and economic development department in developing revisions to the Town’s zoning ordinance for Open Space Subdivisions (revising the current “Planned Residential Development” section) and assisting with research and development of a Transfer of Development Rights or “amenity” zoning chapter.

    The intern will be responsible for performing tasks and projects as requested by the Town Planner and Director of Planning & Economic Development. Tasks and projects may include, but are not limited to: the zoning ordinance project listed above, plan review, GIS work, attending various town board/committee meetings, and other related duties as assigned.

    Minimum qualifications include a degree in Planning, or a related discipline, or coursework in pursuit of such a degree. The Intern should be familiar with town/city planning and/or community economic development, have excellent written and verbal communication skills and be comfortable with researching planning & zoning topics, analytical analysis and data manipulation. This person must be proficient in working with Microsoft Excel worksheets and word processing programs such as Microsoft Word or WordPerfect. Familiarity with ESRI ArcView or ArcMap is preferred.

    The position will be open until filled and all interested individuals are encouraged to apply on or before April 15, 2005 by sending a cover letter and resume to:
    <snipped>
    "Growth is inevitable and desirable, but destruction of community character is not. The question is not whether your part of the world is going to change. The question is how." -- Edward T. McMahon, The Conservation Fund

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