In the “Blogtern” series, we continue to hear from interns in local government. Our goal is that you can strength your internship program by hearing from what makes for a meaningful internship experience. Hat tip to ELGL member and Yorktown (IN) Town Manager Pete Olson for connecting us with Todd Blevins. We think you will enjoy Todd’s writing, but before you take a look, check out this article – Yorktown’s intern helps further town projects.
Intern Is Not Really Your Last Name, Is It?
My name is Todd the Intern. It used to be Todd Blevins, but my boss Pete Olson and the good people of the Town of Yorktown, Indiana, decided that just wouldn’t do. I’m serious—if you polled the 100 or so people who have met me since I started my internship, maybe two could tell you my last name. Just this week, a Chamber of Commerce member tentatively asked me, ‘Intern’s not really your last name, is it?’ So you get the point. Anyway, besides being an Intern, I’m a full-time graduate student working towards a Masters’ of Public Administration at Ball State University.
One of the biggest parts of my internship is operating the Town’s social media pages. As I’m writing this, I’m looking at the dry-erase board where I post weekly analytics for our Facebook and Twitter pages. We’ve exploded on Facebook, having gained about 160 likes in a little over a month. Our reach and engagement statistics are also through the roof, but I have to admit that part of that is because we occasionally post pictures of lost dogs that we house here at the office. Still, our latest ‘no dogs’ week had three times the reach as my first week and six times the engagement, so I must be doing something right.
Another big part of my internship has been planning Yorktown’s 5th annual Four for the Fourth (say that four times fast) run and first ever 4th of July festival. Having run in the race (my first ever!) and worked at the festival, I can unequivocally say that both were MAJOR successes, and that’s not just the Intern in me talking. The run had an 815 participants, and the festival events (canoe race, pie baking contest, hot dog eating contest, rubber duck races) drew major crowds.
But undoubtedly the biggest smash of the day was the cardboard boat race. To promote the event, Pete and I made our own boat, which sank in about 15 seconds (here is a link to said disaster), but even we didn’t expect such a turnout. The most difficult job was deciding which boat was decorated best. Naturally, that job went to a certain Intern. But I also got to judge the pie baking contest, so that made up for it.
Pretty much all of the other stuff I do involves making Yorktown more awesome.
- I’ve made a brochure on how to be a good neighbor
- I worked on signs to make our trail system better.
- I’ve gone on a walkabout with an art consultant to find the best spots for public art.
- I’ve gone to a ‘For the Love of Cities’ seminar and done a comparative analysis with other towns to find out what makes Yorktown awesome and how it can improve even further.
And pretty soon, I’ll be making presentations to the Chamber of Commerce and Town Council (breathing intensifies) about how to make Yorktown more awesome.
So here’s what I’m getting at: I feel like I belong here. Not in the I’m-going-to-work-here-forever sense, but the I-feel-valued sense. Notice how I keep saying ‘our’? That’s what I’m talking about. I could have come in and done the drudge work like any other intern, but, again, the good people of the Town of Yorktown decided that just wouldn’t do. Instead, I get to promote the Town on social media. I get to make cardboard boats. I get to eat pie. I get to go on walkabouts. I get to go to seminars. I get to offer my input. Perhaps more than anything, we Interns want to feel like we matter, and I certainly feel that here.
So yeah, I kind of like being Todd the Intern. But don’t tell anyone. They might just start calling me Todd.