In 2005, Tanya Ange was an intern with the city of Mankato, Minnesota. A year later she was appointed assistant to the city manager and, in 2009, was appointed to her current position of deputy city manager. After more than 10 years of watching city government work, she’s not hesitant about what she wants her final title to be.
“My goal is to be a city manager,” Ange said.
Life, Well Run is all about inspiring a new generation to become professional local government managers. Senior managers are retiring in large numbers, and we need bright and dedicated young people who want to make public service their career.
From small rural communities to large urban ones, successful internship programs like the one in Mankato, thrive. However, for those without programs in place, creating one from scratch can be a daunting proposition. To assist in the process, ICMA created a handy list of resources with tips for developing internship programs (bonus: an intern wrote it!).
Professional managers must continue working to increase opportunities for those who will be the local government leaders of tomorrow. Luckily, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. Here are the Top Ten Best Practices in Internships in Local Government, compiled from ICMA’s Management Internship Guide.
- Access. Allow the intern access to staff and the chief administrative official, and encourage the intern to attend meetings and events.
- Variety and Meaningful Work. Provide varied projects and participatory experiences in a number of different departments.
- Individuality. Each intern will have his or her own set of goals. Elicit input from other departments for potential work projects.
- Education. Educate people in the community about careers in local government, and seek out opportunities to promote the internship program.
- Frontline Experience. Provide an opportunity for the intern to learn to appreciate and respect the work of frontline service providers who exhibit good management practices.
- Mentoring. Provide interns with stable mentors to offer guidance and encouragement throughout the internship experience. Provide them with workspaces near as many people as possible so they can engage with other staff.
- Supervision. Avoid having the intern report to a supervisor who may lack the experience and authority to provide the intern with tools for learning.
- Flexibility. Remember that interns may have difficult academic schedules. Discuss projects and deadlines with interns and their academic counselors to ensure that everyone’s needs are being met.
- Evaluate. Give interns feedback throughout their tenure and have them evaluate their own experiences before leaving. Remember that this is a growth experience for them!
- Assimilate. Make the program a routine part of the organization. Train regular staff to expect and appreciate the value added by interns.
Read the full article from the Mankato Free Press on Tanya Ange’s rise through local government, and what the role of city manager means to her.