Internships and the Local Community: Building Relationships through Projects and Transitioning into Professionals

Authors: Dawn Hawley*, NORTHERN ARIZONA UNIVERSITY, Amanda Burns, Northern Arizona University, Rachael Smith, Northern Arizona University
Topics: Geography Education
Keywords: internships, community outreach, applied community projects
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


As part of the undergraduate education, internships provide professional experience and a chance to apply skills in the real world and aid in forging agency-academic relationships. The projects that interns are responsible for have the possibility of impacting, directly or indirectly, the local community. The Geospatial Sciences and Community Planning (GSP) program at Northern Arizona University requires experiential learning for graduation, which includes professional internships. As community building and service is an important aspect of the undergraduate experience, interns, through agency projects, play an important role in the department's outreach to the local area as representatives of the program and the university, forging a strong working and trust relationship. Projects by GSP interns demonstrate direct and indirect impacts on the surrounding community. Working for agencies such as Flagstaff Community Development, students have been responsible for aiding in the creation of neighborhood plans for historic areas under redevelopment pressure. The students have done multiple tasks including community meetings, data analysis, mapping and neighborhood outreach in helping prepare plans. Indirectly, interns have impacted community with projects such as data collection and analysis (GIS) to improve area forecasting by the National Weather Service. By gaining professional experience, these students aid local communities, while their agencies and supervisors help them transition from student into professional.

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