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Maricopa County internship program invests in ASU students

Tom Manos with ASU students Robert Celeya and Jared McDaniel
September 04, 2014

In a conference room in a non-descript downtown Maricopa County office building, Arizona State University senior Jared McDaniel listens intently as Maricopa County manager Tom Manos talks about his career in public service. McDaniel, a criminal justice major, is one of several ASU students to have an exclusive audience with Manos. They are part of a new internship program called Maricopa County Leadership and Education Advancing Public Service. It’s more commonly referred to by its acronym: MC LEAPS. The internship, run by the College of Public Programs, connects ASU students with county agencies and community support projects for a semester.

“I was interested in the MC LEAPS program for the knowledge base,” says McDaniel. “I want to learn more about the public service side, as far as what Maricopa County does within each department, as well as working with other departments.”

McDaniel is one of two criminology and criminal justice students who is working in Maricopa County’s Justice System Planning and Information unit. The office focuses on effective crime prevention by utilizing crime research and data analysis. McDaniel will be putting together reports on juveniles and female offenders.

“I think this is a huge opportunity for me, mainly because of the knowledge we’re going to learn from this, the hands-on experience that each of us are going to be able to get,” McDaniel says.

In addition to the daily hands-on experience, MC LEAPS interns are able to expand their skill set and develop mentoring relationships. They will also attend professional training sessions throughout the semester. Students receive a tuition and fee waiver for the semester and earn a stipend of $4,700.

The internship is open to any ASU undergraduate or graduate student with a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Students submit an application, including a resume, unofficial transcript and a personal statement of interest, which explains how the internship fits with the student’s academic and career goals. Students also select the county agency and project where they would like to intern. The fall 2014 pilot program offered work-learning opportunities with: Air Quality – management and small business; Education Service Agency – communication systems and fiscal policy; Facilities Management; Human Resources; Justice System Planning and Information; Office of Budget and Management; Public Fiduciary or Treasurer's Office – research and IT systems. A dedicated ASU website contains general information about the program.

“MC LEAPS creates the opportunity for the future leaders of Maricopa County to begin their professional journey now through exposure to the work, challenges and people who serve in their local government,” says MaryEllen Sheppard, an assistant county manager who oversees the internship program. “The county benefits from their creativity, enthusiasm and questioning of what is done, and most importantly, why and how. The present and the future are connected through this program.”

ASU students can receive up to 12 academic hours for the internship, which requires students to work 40 hours a week. At the end of the internship, each student will make a presentation to county administrative staff and ASU personnel about their MC LEAPS experience and contribution to the projects they worked on.

“This gives them an opportunity to learn more about the work they want to do in the future and make the connection between their academic studies and career goals,” says Maryjo Douglas Zunk, manager of career development for the School of Public Affairs, who is coordinating the program for ASU. “And the win for the students? Developing real-world knowledge, transferable skills and leadership experience that is highly sought and rewarded in today’s changing communities!”