The city of Pueblo is working with Colorado State University-Pueblo on an internship program for its students. While many of the details still need to be worked out, this is promising news on several fronts.
Representatives from the university approached city officials about the idea a couple of months ago, then followed up with an outline of how they hope the program might look. The Pueblo City Council passed a resolution last Wednesday, allowing the planning process to move forward.
There could be many practical benefits to having student interns working at City Hall. Obviously, that would give the students on-the-job experience that they could use after graduation. As we’ve said on this page before, practical training can be just as valuable as classroom instruction in preparing our community’s young people for the workforce.
With Pueblo switching to a mayoral form of government, this promises to be a particularly interesting time to be working at 1 City Hall Place. The transition will produce some new challenges that may baffle even seasoned government employees. But it also should produce countless learning opportunities as the new government takes shape.
This program also should give some of our young people a great opportunity to become more vested in the community. It’s important for young people to become engaged in civic life at an early age, both for them and the places where they live.
Participants in this program may feel less inclined to move away from Pueblo after graduation, instead seeking job opportunities with city government or other employers close to home.
Also, this is yet another opportunity for CSU-Pueblo to deepen its ties with the community at large. Not that the university hasn’t been doing a good job of that. But the more deeply involved CSU-Pueblo students, faculty and staff become with people who live and work off campus, the better off we’ll all be.
It apparently hasn’t been decided what types of work the student interns might do, but this carries intriguing possibilities as well.
For example, it’s been well reported that the city’s code enforcement department doesn’t have sufficient staff to address all of the issues that arise in our neighborhoods. What if interns were trained to document code problems and report them back to the department?
Or alert the city road department about specific trouble spots in need of repairs? Or provide whatever assistance might be needed to prepare applications for grants to revitalize certain parts of town?
Clearly, there are some tasks within city government that should be left in the hands of skilled full-time professionals. However, interns certainly could take over some of the simpler jobs, leaving full-time employees to focus on more complicated work.
As with all new programs, the devil will be in the details. The city and the university will have to work together to devise an operating plan that serves both institutions and their respective constituencies well.
At a glance, though, this concept seems to have a lot of merit and should be pursued with enthusiasm.