Internships in the City

You can’t ask for a better way to get a sense of the realities of planning and public policy—Diana Won’s major at Rutgers—than a duo of internships in Newark, New Jersey’s largest city.

At La Casa de Don Pedro, a community-development nonprofit in the city, Diana helped organize federal grant applications for low-income housing. Then, at the city’s Department of Planning and Economic Development, Diana learned about the nitty-gritty details of city government by participating in projects such as a riverfront redevelopment plan and the updating of Newark’s master plan.

Diana, a recent graduate of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, recently completed an internship at another organization, the Unity Square Partnership in New Brunswick, where she assisted with rent control and tenants rights issues, affordable housing projects, and a community survey.

How have your internships been valuable experiences?
It’s one thing to learn something within a classroom, but it’s another to actually explore these concepts and see them in real life.

Being at Rutgers has really afforded me all these different opportunities. My internships have really pushed my academic understanding and helped me grow beyond the classroom.

In my research at Rutgers, I learned about Community Development Block Grants, greenspaces, and art as tools for community development.

Then, while working at La Casa, I saw these different innovations in practice. La Casa really tried to respond to the needs of the community. At a time when the foreclosure crisis was really starting to surface, they provided residents with support and guidance, and I learned a lot about the legal process of foreclosure there.

The internship was really eye-opening. It was the first time I really saw my academics play a role in real life.

Senior Diana Won

Diana WonYou must have had the chance to see a different side of things in your internship at City Hall in Newark.
That was a great experience, too. I got to learn a lot about how a master plan is created—this big, overarching document for city planning.

I got to do a lot of work on that process, working with the branding team, thinking about how to market it, writing press releases, and creating a timeline of all the previous master plans.

I learned that although the environment can be hectic, it’s really important to stay on top of my goals and what I want to accomplish.

Which classes have really made a difference to you?
For “Gentrifying New York City,” a first-year seminar, we visited Coney Island and Harlem. It was really eye-opening to read literature about issues in cities and then to explore real spaces to see how places were changing as a result of different policies.

Have there been any professors or mentors at Rutgers who have been particularly helpful, and how?
I have had extraordinary professors at Rutgers who really care about my experience here. One mentor who has really gone above and beyond for me is Dr. Roland V. Anglin at the Bloustein School.

As a freshman, I took a first-year seminar called “Riots and Policy Response,” which focused on the Newark riots of 1967 and the public-policy responses. After this course, he offered me a research assistantship.

It was during my research that I really got interested in the topic of community economic development and its effects on both the people and their physical environment. I still work with Dr. Anglin as a researcher and meet with him to talk about my plans.

Voorhees Fellows Connect with the Community

For her internships with the City of Newark and the Unity Square Partnership, Diana received $5,000 in funding from the Bloustein School as a Voorhees Fellow.

The program helps undergraduates with financial needs learn about community development and planning at nonprofits and other organizations and take advantage of the university’s service-learning opportunities.

Established in 2009, the Ralph W. Voorhees Fellowship Program in Public Service selects four exceptional Rutgers undergraduates each year. Other fellows have had internships in state government, an AIDS service organization, and a health policy center. Learn more.