A first-person account of a summer internship at MARC

Jul 11, 2023
| Posted in
Five summer interns stand next to a heart-shaped sculpture

ProX participants are placed with employers for five weeks during the summer and presented with a problem statement. At the end of the five weeks, the student groups pitch a solution and execute that solution based on employer feedback. This is a guest article by Pertula, one of our ProX summer interns.

"What motivates you in your public service career?" This is the question I asked professionals and the one running through my mind. I explored that very question during my internship at MARC.  

Public service can be an arduous field. MARC's decisions and brainstorming impact everyone. As an organization, MARC fulfills tasks that seem menial to the average person. These individuals may not know who works behind the scenes to support the regional 911 system. That is only a fraction of what MARC does, and I've learned more about its mission.  

MARC's mission is "Advancing progress toward a stronger Kansas City region through leadership, planning and action" and MARC covers all aspects of your life, from early learning to aging and health.  

I interned in the local government department. Before this experience, when I thought of government, the president was the first thought that came to my head. However, this internship was the first of many where I learned so many other aspects of government. I never knew about their day-to-day work, whether "it's working with local governments to develop cooperative approaches and shared solutions, including information technology, logistics, microregional initiatives, salary surveys and programs for small cities," which is covered by shared services (a part of local government) or "aiding local governments to increase their purchasing power and decrease administrative costs," which is covered by cooperative purchasing (another part of MARC’s local government work).

Local government plays a huge role in our day-to-day lives. They provide essential services and ensure community safety, well-being, and prosperity. Working with MARC has been a pleasure. I have learned much from the team here and am grateful for the chance to grow professionally. The experience has been invaluable, and I look forward to continuing our collaboration (obviously, when I'm older).

As an incoming freshman at Center Senior High School in Kansas City, Missouri, I have few internship opportunities. I am lucky to intern at such a community-centered organization for my first internship. This experience will be a great foundation for a successful career. I am eager to apply the skills I gained and the knowledge I acquired to future projects.

I could never have imagined the depth of public service in general. It's like a well-oiled machine; everyone working together to better the general population.

Interests that you would never think coincide are all present in the public sector. Whether it's computers and tech or legal and law, you name it; the public sector has a place for you. The public sector offers incredible opportunities to make a difference in the world. It's an honor to work in such a diverse and impactful environment.  

Pertula, ProX summer intern

I'm excited to see what the future holds for me and the public sector. I want to discuss my internship, which started on June 5. We attended several meetings during the first week to get to know the different departments that compose MARC. We learned about their processes and procedures. We also had the opportunity to ask questions and get to know the people we'd be working with for the next five weeks. Everyone was so friendly, answering our endless questions with great enthusiasm. The team was already well-versed in their roles and excited to share their knowledge.

We left the office feeling inspired and ready to start the project. My project was related to the Public Service Career Expo MARC hosts every two years. Our challenge statement was how we might encourage and motivate young people to pursue a career in public service. Though the question seems simple, it took much brainstorming to wrap our heads around it. Our first "work" meeting was with 988. 988 is a suicide and crisis hotline, and the partnering organizations wondered how they could promote the use of 988 to specific audiences like people of color and older adults.  

Though the situations differ, the question remains: How can we encourage people to learn more about this resource? After some brainstorming, we came up with a few ideas. We wanted to create public service announcements and put them on social media and contact local newspapers and radio stations to spread the word. We also proposed partnering with a local nonprofit to get the word out to the community. We also suggested having multiple languages for the above resources, which translated well into our initial challenge statement. We thought, "You must reach out first and meet people halfway to create an impact."

Most of the time, people didn't know about public service, like they didn't know of 988, but through the efforts specified above — social media, local newspapers, etc. — we can achieve both plans. We would further our presence by publishing materials related to our agendas on frequently used applications. When you see something recurring, it's something that you eventually become familiar with and begin to trust. With the constant reiteration of 988 and public service, people will become more familiar with and trust these services. This will transfer into the utilization of 988 and the awareness of public service.  

MARC was technically my first job, so being a part of the team furthered my knowledge of public service and careers. It taught me the importance of teamwork and effectively communicating with colleagues to achieve a common goal. I also learned the importance of taking initiative and being proactive to maximize my time and effort. I had never been apt to work in teams, but your perception changes when you have a group of like-minded individuals. It was also the first time I had to do something I didn't want to do — it opened my eyes to the practical side of work: securing contacts and inputting information into spreadsheets. The process was grueling, but I knew it would benefit MARC's outreach in the long run. I eventually grew to enjoy the task and found it rewarding to see the results of my efforts.  

I'm glad I had the opportunity to experience the reality of a working environment and learn the importance of dedication and work. It's an experience I will never forget. Connection through MARC has helped me meet many people, including mayors, city managers, CEOs, etc. MARC has broadened my view of how our communities run. Everyone must work together for a community to succeed, and MARC is a prime example of what to do. This experience has taught me to appreciate the hard work of people in our community and to be open to learning from different perspectives. It has also encouraged me to get involved in my community to help improve it. I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of MARC and to have gained these valuable lessons.