Magazine article Public Management

How I Spent My Summer Vacation ... You Guessed It-At City Hall-And Yes, It Was Incredible!

Magazine article Public Management

How I Spent My Summer Vacation ... You Guessed It-At City Hall-And Yes, It Was Incredible!

Article excerpt

Across college campuses this fail, students might have been asked that age-old question, "How was your summer vacation?" The standard reply usually consists of the word "good" and perhaps not much else. But if that description is all the student can muster, then a summer internship in local government wasn't part of the agenda.

As a 2011 summer intern with the city of Maryland Heights, Missouri, 1 was fortunate to experience the dynamic nature of management in local government. Although the old adage that no two days are alike may not be entirely true for an intern, there are certainly enough everyday twists to keep things interesting. Particularly in this internship program, the combination of challenging tasks and managers who welcome thoughtful ideas made it a great fit not just for me but also for scores of others in past years.

A 26-Year Program

Maryland Heights has operated this internship program every summer since the city incorporated in 1985. The program originated in the administration department, with graduate student interns from local universities who were interested in municipal management.

Over the years, internships were developed for other city departments--community development, parks and recreation, public relations, and public works--and expanded to include undergraduate and graduate students from schools around the country. Maryland Heights has now hosted more than 100 interns in its 26-year existence.

This past summer, the internship program included students from universities in the Midwest who worked on a variety of projects. Interns in community development conducted research and analyzed data that related to city planning and zoning. A public works intern performed design, concept, and cost estimates for engineering and construction projects. Another intern, in parks and recreation, learned about the management of a recreational facility. In administration, three interns worked on economic development research, human resources matters, and budget projections.

Although we worked independently on these projects, we as a group also experienced various aspects of city government. Weekly excursions to facilities like a water treatment plant and a recycling center exposed us to operations taking place outside of city hall that still impact service delivery and quality of life in the area. We also planned the annual summer barbeque for the city's 200 employees, a task designed to give us experience working on an interdepartmental project. …

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