Erik “Max” Jones ’15 hopes to take the skills he learned from his time in local government to a future of service outside the country. This summer, he served as a community engagement intern with Philly311, Philadelphia’s non-emergency hotline.
“As an international affairs major, working in the City of Philadelphia government may seem strange,” says Jones. “But my specific duties involved learning and employing community-organizing techniques, skills I hope to one day take abroad as a Peace Corps volunteer.”
In January, Jones had an externship with Hannah Klein ’11 in the Office of Grants for the City of Philadelphia. Klein encouraged Jones to apply for the Mayor’s Internship Program.
“I loved the city and was intrigued by several exciting initiatives in the city government there so I figured I’d give it a shot,” Jones says.
His responsibilities included attending community meetings and training citizens how to use 311 tools and resources.
On Fridays all of the interns in the program went to an Exploring Government session. They heard presentations from various city figures, including the mayor, the police commissioner, and the district attorney, and had the opportunity to ask questions.
Jones prepared and gave presentations related to the Neighborhood Liaison Program (NLP) and the Philly311 mobile app that enables community members to report issues. NLP is a program in which representatives of the Philly311 program teach community leaders how to report community issues such as potholes, vacant houses, and abandoned vehicles via the internet.
“I’ve had the opportunity to meet with many concerned Philadelphia residents and cultivate a community presence for Philly311. It’s exciting teaching citizens about these resources and how they can utilize them to bring positive change to their communities,” Jones says.
He liked getting out of the office and meeting people in the community.
“It’s great learning about the fundamentals of community engagement, such as being visible in the community and introducing citizens to each other to make important connections,” says Jones. “It’s exciting to think about the techniques I learned in Philadelphia and one day transposing them internationally for the Peace Corps.”