Matching Interns with Counties
Students see "where government meets the people"
Cleaning up the Etowah River … helping shape DeKalb County’s strategic plan … rewriting Spalding County’s tree ordinance … creating a video to promote Forsyth County parks. These are just a few of the hands-on experiences college students have gained through the Georgia County Internship Program as they filled critical needs for counties around the state.
County leaders say they're amazed at how quickly interns complete tasks and bring new ideas to their offices. And students are gaining a first-hand appreciation of county operations, where government meets the people.
ACCG and ARCHE partnered to develop GCIP to provide internship opportunities in county departments around the state and recruit college students to them. The Georgia Department of Labor added $250,000 in funding to jumpstart the program and encourage counties all over Georgia to offer internships.
By September, about 40 counties had posted positions – and hired 58 students from 28 colleges and universities. Many of the earliest interns have completed their duties. Here are profiles of a few of those experiences.
James McKenzie (UGA): Bartow County
James McKenzie, a Bartow County native, had just graduated the University of Georgia with a degree in ecology and anthropology when he joined the Bartow County Environmental Department as an intern. Over the summer, McKenzie worked on many environmental projects -- he conducted energy audits, applied for energy grants, participated in the Rivers Alive cleanup and spoke to area schools about recycling programs implemented by the county. He then coordinated a cleanup of the Etowah River by recruiting area college students, county citizens, and after school groups.
Adriana Bowles (Mercer): Coweta County
Adriana Bowles is majoring in psychology with a minor in communications at Mercer University. Over the summer, Bowles interned with the Coweta County Communications Office. As part of her duties, she maintained and updated their website, wrote articles about county events, and helped plan many groundbreaking ceremonies. After assisting her intern supervisor with several events, Bowles planned the new fire station groundbreaking ceremony on her own and was responsible for all event details ranging from sending out invitations to working with the press.
Columbia Johnson (Brenau): Forsyth County
Columbia Johnson is a business major at Brenau University. Over the course of her internship with Forsyth County, she spent four weeks working with the Communications Department and four weeks working with the Finance Department. Her work with the Communications Department included press releases, video archiving and groundbreaking ceremonies. Additionally, she developed a media database and has created a video to promote the Parks and Recreation Department.
Doug Wynn (UGA): Spalding County
Doug Wynn, a native of Spalding County, recently graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in landscape architecture. During the summer, he interned with the Spalding County Community Development Department. Wynn revised the county tree ordinance to give developers incentives to preserve trees. He also helped to implement the study of a street corridor to improve connectivity and aesthetics along the North Hill Street corridor. Wynn worked on GIS projects, attended meetings and helped with the day-to-day operations of the office. Upon completing his internship, Wynn plans on attending law school and hopes to practice environmental law.
Rochelle Bent (Clark Atlanta): DeKalb County
Rochelle Bent is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration at Clark Atlanta University and is interested in pursuing a career in county government upon graduation. Her internship was with the office of the CEO in DeKalb County. Over the course of her internship, Bent assisted in preparing the Focus DeKalb strategic plan for DeKalb County by creating surveys and gathering facts. Some of the ideas she presented were incorporated into the plan and will be used in DeKalb County for years to come. April Atkins, Bent’s supervisor, has made sure that Bent’s experience with the county was multi-dimensional. In addition to her work on the strategic plan, Bent was also involved with customer service, the revenue enhancement committee, and special projects assigned by the CEO. She also had the opportunity to attend board of commissioner meetings and budget meetings for the county.
Jake Moore and Matthew Palmer (UWG): Haralson County
Jake Moore is a junior at the University of West Georgia pursuing a degree in criminology. Moore interned with the Haralson County Code Enforcement Department. As part of his internship, he updated the county’s business license records to identify active and inactive status of area business. This project allowed the county to update its records and to recoup lost revenue from businesses not in compliance. Moore also worked with the tax assessors in the appraisal of property and verified and updated the list of mobile home stickers for the county. He met on a regular basis with county staff and officials, including the county marshal. When he graduates, Moore plans to work in law enforcement.
Matthew Palmer is a senior finance major at the University of West Georgia. Palmer interned with the Haralson County Finance Department. Over the course of his internship, Palmer worked on cost analysis projects to identify the cost of items for the county. He also worked with the tax assessor in conducting property appraisals and has assisted the Haralson emergency management agency with grant writing.