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.