An Internship of Opportunities

School of Professional & Continuing Education (SPCE)

This summer, I had the opportunity to complete an internship with the JMU School of Professional & Continuing Education. As a graduate student entering into my second year of the Masters of Public Administration program, I served as a graduate assistant to the department last school year and plan to continue that experience during the upcoming year as well. With that in mind, my experience as an intern differed. In both positions, I served under Dr. Nick Swartz, then Associate Dean and new Interim Dean, and spent much of my time focused on economic and community development. In my role as an intern, I was tasked with an array of objectives ranging from research into grant opportunities available to local organizations, designing and creating academic booklets, and helping to plan the second annual meeting of the Regional Economic Recovery Series that Dr. Swartz and other local leaders have created to help organizations succeed in an increasingly difficult economic environment.

Another major project that I undertook over the course of my internship that tied directly to the MPA program was a research paper on the economic development of the Town of Elkton. In 2010 Dr. Swartz, accompanied by a small team of people, was tasked with creating an economic development plan that would help revitalize the Town. Using that plan, I researched the Town today and delved into whether the Town implemented his suggestions and how successful the community currently is. Through my research, I was able to learn much about economic development in local communities and about one of Harrisonburg’s nearest neighbors. Despite attending JMU for five years, I had never visited Elkton, so I was appreciative of the opportunity to learn more about the town.


In all, this internship experience taught me many important life lessons and gave me a new appreciation for the role that universities can play in their communities. Prior to this experience, I was unaware of the many lengths that JMU goes to help out the surrounding area, and it was nice to learn the many ways in which smaller communities are able to find economic success. In addition to the lessons I learned, this experience has helped shape my personal identity and taught me much about myself. Through this experience, I was able to learn more about economic development and have discovered a true passion for the subject. The ability to visit an area, identify weaknesses, and then build relations with people, organizations, and governments is truly a gift that I one day hope to acquire. Economic development is a path to success for communities big and small, and being able to help people achieve their dreams through economic initiatives is one thing I hope to do after completing the MPA program at JMU.


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Published: Monday, October 10, 2022

Last Updated: Thursday, November 2, 2023

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