The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Internship Spotlight: Jacob Binnall, Metropolitan Area Planning Council

Headshot of student Jacob Binnall

Hometown: Framingham, Massachusetts

Degree and graduation year: 4+1 Master of Public Policy, 2020

Where I interned: The Metropolitan Area Planning Council, the regional planning agency serving the people who live and work in the 101 cities and towns of Metropolitan Boston.

What I did there: I interned for the director of municipal collaboration, assisting him on projects ranging from diversity in the public safety workforce of Boston to developing and researching the creation of a Shared Sustainability Office for three towns/cities in our region. My internship largely focused on helping towns and cities work together to achieve common goals and start to think regionally.

The most important thing I learned: The utmost importance of maximizing utilization of all available resources for municipalities. MAPC is a huge resource for all of its member communities and produces high-quality, personalized work on behalf of the municipalities it serves, and regional planning has the potential to really benefit so many people and the communities they live in.

The most challenging part of my internship: For much of my work, I had to compile a significant amount of research before I was ready to present my findings to my boss. I was grateful for the UMass Library’s website during my internship as it provided me access to so much research and work that was very helpful to me. I also had to spend a lot of time developing new skills and learning new concepts during this internship, such as researching the history and application of Civil Service and job descriptions and duties of sustainability-related positions throughout the country.

What surprised me the most: I was mostly surprised by how much I loved the work I did at MAPC and how much autonomy and respect I was given by my boss. I was expecting this internship to be like many others where I’d perform low-level tasks, get little credit for my work, and be the grunt of the organization. At MAPC, I was treated like a valued member of the team and was always able to present my own research, including a major presentation to the president of the Boston City Council. I was pleasantly surprised by this and am very grateful.

Why I’m studying public policy: I want to build my skillsets and knowledge in order to best prepare myself to serve my community. I have always been engaged in the communities I find myself in and am ready to take this step to prepare myself to enter the field as a professional. I want to be able to take my experience here and apply it to the world around me in order to start making the world a better, more creative and collaborative place.

Future plans: I am currently preparing to apply to law school, where I want to study public and constitutional law. After that, I would like to get involved in legal advocacy organizations.

About the School of Public Policy: Established in 2016, the UMass Amherst School of Public Policy prepares students for leadership in public service. The program’s focuses include social change and public policy related to science and technology.

Contact: Maureen Turner, communications manager, School of Public Policy


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