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What Do You Wish You Knew? (The Summer Intern Edition)

Posted on June 4, 2019


Summer Intern

Today’s Buzz is by Kim Nakahodo – connect with her on LinkedIn & Twitter!

What I’m Watching: With the kiddos: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.  Without my kiddos, and guilty pleasure: Riverdale (BTW, very different than the comics I grew up reading…..)

What I’m Reading: Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start Up by John Carreyrou

What I’m Listening To: KCUR; GovLove; Hidden Brain

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Hey now!  After a very rough winter and kinda scary spring there in the heartland, it is finally summer! For us and many other municipalities, summer also means summer interns!

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What the summer internship really is…..  HAHHAHAHAHH!!!!

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I mean, what a great opportunity to help develop the next generation of local government leaders!

All kidding aside, I love the summer intern season.  I look forward to having a bit of help through the summer project season and students get a bit of real-world experience under their belt.  Traditionally, I have a wireframe of projects that I need help with, but I try to match projects with my intern’s interests.

Over the last several years, all of my interns have wanted to work on economic development projects. ALL OF THEM.  I am not sure why this seems to be, but as soon as I hear this, I break out my summer reading homework for them.

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My reading log includes the standard Strategic Plan, Master Plan, Budget and Comprehensive Financial Annual Report.  I also sprinkle in several articles that explain what the myriad of economic development acronym programs actually do and when/how you should use them.  From my user experience, students know economic development buzz words, but they have no idea how the tools are structured, when and why we may use them, and how to implement them.

Then I bring in the binders!  I hope you like soul-crushing paperwork because that is half of what economic development really is!

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YES.  It has taken me a long time to admit this, but I LOVE my binders.  I have binders for every project that log the governing body official actions for the project, master development agreements, financing plans, endless amendments, state and county abatement paperwork (if applicable) and a To Do list for each project.  Hours of fun for everyone!

I do this out of love…..  this is what I wish someone had told me earlier in my career.  If you want to get into economic development in local government, be prepared to kiss a lot of frogs, suffer multiple heartbreaks, and steel yourself for hours of soul-crushing paperwork.  Document everything and make sure you have a firm understanding of your community’s goals and how this project either fits or does not fit into them.  Everyone knows everyone and relationships matter more than you can know.  Deals will fall through, and your success will be judged on how you handle your losses just as much as how you celebrate your victories.

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I have a few questions for the ELGL brain trust!

  1. What do you wish someone had taught you earlier in your career?
  2. What topics do you make sure to cover with your summer intern?
  3. My intern has a philosophical question he is struggling with.  Should he:
    1. Attend graduate school in the fall.
    2. Get a job with the intent of going back to school later with a few years of experience (and an employer to help fund graduate school!)

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