Summer Internships Take CRP Graduate Students from the Midwest to India

a group of students standing with arms around each others shoulders

Dominic Mathew (M.R.P. '18), far right, with staff from The Asia Foundation and Renaissance Institute in Taunggyi, Myanmar. photo / Steele Burrow

September 8, 2017

Sena Kayasu (M.A. HPP '18), Melanie Colter (M.A. HPP '18), and Dominic Mathew (M.R.P. '18), graduate students in the Department of City and Regional Planning, spent a few weeks of their summers as interns with organizations in Cleveland, Ohio; Ithaca, New York; and New Delhi, India, respectively. The internships were secured through AAP Connect, the college's career services office.

Kayasu interned at the Cleveland Restoration Society via the Keithley Professional Bridging Internship, an organization focused on protecting older buildings and neighborhoods in Cleveland and turning them into opportunities for the city's residents. Kayasu worked on projects that addressed a trend of city homeowners moving to the suburbs despite their homes being in good condition.

"My takeaway from the experience is that historic preservation does not always need to be about uniquely significant buildings and monuments," said Kayasu. "Preservationists can act proactively on a larger scale in neighborhoods." The internship is sponsored by Joseph Keithley '71, director of The Cleveland Foundation, who serves on Cornell's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering's advisory council.

Colter was the Stuart Stein Heritage Tourism intern at The History Center in Tompkins County. Named for a professor and chair of Cornell's Department of Urban Planning and Development in the 1970s, the internship is part of a heritage tourism plan by the Tompkins County Legislature to establish the Tompkins Center for History and Culture in a historic building in downtown Ithaca, among other initiatives.

The highlight of Colter's internship was getting to know Ithaca beyond "the college town identity" as she worked on the emerging center for history and culture, the inaugural heritage ambassadors training program, and a self-guided tours app. "The app has made me think more about the effects of new technology on the user experience in cities," said Colter, "something that will have increasing influence in tourism planning."

Secured via the Cooperative Summer Internship Program, Mathew's internship was at the Institute of Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) in New Delhi, India. ITDP is a nonprofit that provides technical expertise to design and implement high-quality transport systems and urban policy solutions in seven countries including the U.S. and India. Mathew helped compare estimates of the cost of physical infrastructure in a business-as-usual scenario versus a transit-oriented development. In the process, he gained an understanding of the rapid growth of Indian cities and the cost of unsustainable infrastructure.

"It has made me value the contextual differences that necessitate different types of infrastructure," he said. After completing his internship, AAP Connect travel funds allowed Mathew to conduct research for his thesis in Myanmar, where he worked with The Asia Foundation helping to frame a mapping strategy and delivery of basic services with the TAF governance team.

Together, the Cooperative Summer Internship Program, the Keithley Professional Bridging Internships, and the Stuart Stein Heritage Tourism Planning Internship are the three main internship programs overseen by AAP Connect for master's degree candidates in regional planning and historic preservation planning.

"Upon acceptance, the students are paired up with a Cornell alum or the director of the organization during their internship," says AAP Connect Internship Programs Coordinator Marjorie Mosereiff. "For them, the internships are passports to life-long mentors and critical skills they can use after graduation, as well as real-world work experience with a source of funding."

By Patti Witten

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