My internship at with the Planning and Economic Development Department at the City of Hopkins provided practical, hands on experience that complemented the more abstract, theoretical aspects of my academic education. Of the many projects and experiences in which I participated, the most notable were my assistance with the administration of a placemaking and façade improvement grant program, planning and implementing the City’s first-ever Open Streets, and helping to city pursue designation as a solar-friendly community in the national SolSmart designation program. In working on these projects, I had opportunities to draft staff reports, present to the City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission, communicate and collaborate with the business community and general public, coordinate between city departments, and gain insight into a wide range of interactions between different types of stakeholders.
These experiences were invaluable in establishing a foundation of knowledge for the processes and actors through which planning and economic development are conducted in the Twin Cities region, and the types of skills that are important to build in order to effectively carry out this work. These experiences were particularly insightful in the context of the City of Hopkins, which has proactively positioned itself to leverage the many changes that face the Twin Cities region in order to generate value and accomplish a variety of community goals. Perhaps most importantly, I gained insight into how a clearly defined long-term vision for the future of the community can be realized through strategic incremental planning activities in the short-term, and the potential for incremental planning activities to inform the big picture visioning process. I am very appreciative of the knowledge and skills this internship has imparted, and especially thankful for the degree to which this experience has energized and elucidated my interest in and passion for planning and economic development.