MPA Student Reports on Summer Experiences Interning in Local Government

September 7 Wednesday 12:08 PM

Eric Pollitt, a second-year MPA student, shares his thoughts about his summer internship experience. Pictured (from left to right) are: Tim Williams, City Administrator; Eric Pollitt, City Intern; and the Mayor of Crestview Hills, Paul Meier.


I would like to thank my boss and Crestview Hills City Administrator, Tim Williams, for the opportunity to intern under him. Tim and I met at the KCCMA 2016 Winter Conference, and discussed local level government and the City Manager/Administrator career field. Later on in the semester, Tim reached out to me offering an opportunity to learn and gain experience in local level government.

There is never a dull day at Crestview Hills and something is always happening. My favorite parts of the internship, so far, have been the following: riding around the City with Tim, and sitting in on City Council, various Committee, and other joint meetings. When riding around the City with Tim, we get a chance to see real problems and observe Crestview Hills’ projects developed in real time. Also, it gives us a chance to talk about the City’s future projects and allows us to see potential problems the City can be proactive in preventing. The Committee meetings are always interesting with discussion on topics such as lane widening, creek erosion prevention, subdivision development, and road repairs.

The biggest thing I have taken away from this experience is a public project is not as simple as appropriating funds. You can have a group of ten participants who have been collaborating on a project for two years, and suddenly someone says, “Hey, wait a minute, we have cause for delay.” This alone can derail start dates, throw off cost estimates, and result in pushed back deadlines. The second biggest take away is coming to a consensus solution to a problem where multiple jurisdictions are affected is difficult and time consuming.

The internship at Crestview Hills has confirmed my interest in local government and career aspirations to become a City/County Manager/Administrator. 

Washington DC Professional Development Trip 2016

August 29 Monday 12:44 PM

Quick quiz for current students! Do you...

A.) Desire to learn more about working in federal government, national non-profits, and beyond from the experts?

B.) Want to network with professionals in public service careers?

C.) Dream of visiting some of DC's top sights?


If you picked A, B, or C, then you should sign up for the annual Washington DC Professional Development Trip! New and returning students are welcome to join us as we visit the offices of major agencies and organizations in our nation's Capitol. Last year's itinerary included panel talks wtih folks from the Council of State Governments, the National Governors' Association, the Social Security Administration, the Congressional Budget Office, and the American Red Cross. We also visited the Government Accountability Office, the Department of Education, the State Department, and toured the Capitol. It was a packed trip, and we don't expect this year's trip to be any different!

You likely have a few questions about the trip, and we've got answers! Read on for more information about the trip. If you would like to attend, e-mail Sarah Smith at by September 7.

How much does it cost?

We try to make this trip as affordable as possible for students. The Martin School pays for the single largest expense of this trip-- the hotel rooms. Students are responsible for meals and transportation. Students can choose to fly (tickets are hovering around $250 roundtrip right now) or drive in a carpool. We are happy to help arrange carpools, with the expectation that all passengers contribute to the cost of gas and parking in DC.

What about classes? Won't we miss them?

The faculty is aware of the dates of this trip. Work with your professors to reschedule any assignments.

How will we get around DC?

We will take the Metro! It's a great way to get around the city. We will travel together from place to place. You will also have a copy of all addresses, contact information, and the itinerary so that if we do happen to get separated, you will know where we are headed and how to get in contact with the group. With this being said, wear comfortable shoes!

How will we prepare for this trip?

We will meet as a group a couple of times before the trip to get to know each other, go over the schedule, and talk through expectations. 

Undergrad Creates Kentucky Charter School Model

July 29 Friday 11:54 AM

I think anyone who has worked with Dr. Toma would agree with Ben Childress' description of her-- passionate, energetic, and "super smart!"

Ben Childress, an undergraduate student and Chellgren Fellow, has been working with Dr. Toma on a research project focusing on charter schools in Kentucky. While charter schools are not currently available in Kentucky, they may be in the near future. Ben's research, as he describes in the podcast below, seeks to answer the question, "If Kentucky had charter schools, where would they be and how many would there be?" Using data from Tennessee, he creates a model to predict the answer to that question.

Ben describes his research as "academic, but [with] real-world applications that will affect a lot of people." Music to our ears! At the Martin School, we are committed to positively impacting our society and the public good through thorough, dedicated research.

Listen in! Ben's portion of the podcast starts around the fifth minute. To learn more about Undergraduate Research, visit their website.

MPA-JD Student Spends Her Summer Interning at the City Finance Dept

July 25 Monday 10:00 PM

Hannah Walker, a joint MPA-JD student, is interning in the city's Department of Finance here in Lexington, Kentucky. Hannah describes her experiences in this position below. 

My internship has been with the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG). I started there in October 2015 when I began a fellowship in the Mayor’s Office. In May, I moved into the Department of Finance. When I began my experience at LFUCG I was promised that this was not your stereotypical internship. I have never had to fetch anyone coffee. The work I’ve been doing has been meaningful and productive.

This summer my fellow intern, Jordan Keeton, and I have completed several large projects. In the beginning, our main project was a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Report. TIFs are an economic development tool that is used frequently in Lexington. The success of the 20-page TIF report led to us writing another report on all of LFUCG’s economic development programs. We’ve also worked with preparing transparent apolitical documents relating the recently adopted FY 2017 LFUCG Budget. This includes a pamphlet and a 20 page electronic document for public consumption. It is the hope of the administration that these documents will lead to citizens having a more thorough understanding of LFUCG, the Budget, and the processes behind appropriating these expenditures. Our last large project was creating a new position at LFUCG. During the recent budget cycle the Urban County Council appropriated funds for the creation of an Officer of Diversity and Inclusion and a Workforce Development Grant. Jordan and I researched and contacted many cities who had similar positions. We were tasked with writing the official Job Analysis Questionnaire (JAQ) that outlines the job requirements and responsibilities, education requirements, and other information for the position.

My day-to-day activities vary depending on what is happening at LFUCG. When Council is in session, I will attend their Committee and Work Session meetings. Because full Council Meetings occur after work hours, the interns are required to attend at least one every summer. In addition to Council related meetings, the interns attend a variety of meetings within the government. There are two main types of meetings that interns attend: board meetings and administrative meetings. The various boards make decisions on very specific issues or projects. These decisions receive final approval from Council. Interns will commonly attend the Economic Development Investment Board meetings. This group administers the Lexington Jobs Fund, an economic development tool that incentivizes job creation in Lexington. The administrative meetings are usually centered on a specific project or policy. These meetings require the coordination of multiple departments and/or divisions in order to address the needs and concerns of the various areas of government. The Department of Finance attends nearly all of these meetings. Finance and the Law Department are the only two departments in government that are truly needed to address every project or policy change. Because of this, interns are able to see the ever changing role that the Department of Finance plays within the LFUCG.

Perhaps the best part of my internship is that it validates my belief that my education at the Martin School is relevant and worthwhile. Firstly, interning at LFUCG has given me the opportunity to see the variety of local government careers that Martin School graduates have pursued. Secondly, I use my education on a daily basis. The projects at my internship sometimes perfectly aligned with my coursework. I put the public finance, budgeting, and economics skills that I’ve learned at the Martin School to work every day. Lastly, I probably wouldn’t have this opportunity if it weren’t for the Martin School. Dr. Eugenia Toma originally connected me to my current supervisor and Martin School alum, Wes Holbrook, and they both encouraged me to apply for the internship. Once I started the internship, I would not have been successful at this internship without the guidance of Lauren Kesselring, recent Martin School alum, who helped show me the ropes and set an excellent example of what a good intern looks like.  

PFM Graduate Certificate FAQs

July 8 Friday 10:30 AM

The Martin School is thrilled to announce we are accepting applications for our NEW Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management! This 12-hour program is offered entirely online! The Martin School has been among the top graduate programs in the nation in public financial management, and we look forward to connecting working professionals around the country with our top-notch curriculum and faculty.

If you are interested in applying, don’t wait! We are only accepting applications until August 19 for fall enrollment. You can read more about the program requirements and how to apply here.


What is a graduate certificate?

While not a full degree program, a graduate certificate offers the student a focused look through graduate-level coursework in a particular specialty topic, setting him or her apart as a burgeoning expert. There are various flavors of graduate certificates—some complement a Master’s degree or professional degree, for example. The Martin School’s Graduate Certificate in Public Financial Management is an independent, stand-alone program. It is not a Master’s degree, but indicates to employers that a professional has had a structured, rigorous introduction to principles of public financial management.


Who is this program intended for?

This program is intended for the working professional who may have a few years’ experience in government, non-profit management, or even public sector-adjacent work—perhaps at a private enterprise that has a high level of touch with the public financial management process. Students that would benefit from developing expertise and skills in budgeting, debt management, investment strategy, cash management, accounting, and financial auditing to take the next step in their careers are ideal candidates.


What does a typical class look like?

As a graduate-level program, each class is as rigorous as our in-person courses for degree-seeking students. However, as an online certificate, students should be able to maintain their full-time work and complete coursework at times that are convenient for them. It’s important to emphasize that this is an asynchronous program, meaning there will be due dates throughout a module—our faculty will expect you to have class assignments or prep work to complete every week. A typical class will be 8 weeks long, so students are only taking one course at any given time. The four courses making up the graduate certificate span two semesters, so the program can be completed in one academic year. On a given week, students may interact with their classmates in a forum discussion, read graduate-level material, work on case studies, and submit assignments. Professors will outline expectations and assignments at the outset.