CALDWELL, NJ — The Borough of Caldwell is currently offering a unique opportunity for Caldwell University students to be introduced to the functions of municipal government. The Borough of Caldwell’s Internship Program gives students an insider’s view of local government and potentially stimulates interest in a future public-sector career.
This initiative, spearheaded on behalf of the borough by Councilwoman Christine Schmidt, works closely with academic internship coordinators at Caldwell University.
“As a parent with children in college, I know firsthand how difficult it is for college students to get job experience and to be able to have a solid credentials to put on their resume post-graduation,” said Schmidt. “I see this as a wonderful opportunity for the students and the borough.”
An ongoing limited partnership with Caldwell University has been primarily utilizing students to assist in the borough’s recreation programs and outreach by the nursing students to assist with senior citizen programming at the Community Center.
According to Schmidt, the newly expanded partnership goal is to introduce university students to the many aspects of municipal government through public policy and management.
The intern positions are designed to provide students with a real-life experience to enhance their academic and professional aspirations. Interns will work alongside Borough of Caldwell professionals and will have many sources from which to draw information specific to their individual courses of study while expanding their understanding of government.
In March, Schmidt was invited to attend a job fair at the university and met students from a wide variety of fields. Some of their majors included business, psychology, marketing, English, accounting, political science, biology, computer information systems and more.
“Our two first interns, Lamar Shea-Chang and Barsha Khatiwada, were biology/computer information and accounting, respectively,” said Schmidt. “Another volunteer, Brooke McPherson, also a computer information systems major, has been assisting our media specialist, Bob Colaizzo, on a volunteer basis when her schedule allows. Student intern Lamar Shea-Chang, has been helping our borough administrator by assembling data for our parking study.”
Looking toward the future, Schmidt stated she is looking forward to having more students on a regular basis and that the borough is “hoping to have students [interning] year-round.”
Schmidt explained that there are opportunities to attain two-to-three credits for the internship based upon internship hours completed. Khatiwada was the first to complete the program and receive college credits, she noted.
“Whether college credit is ultimately achieved or not, the borough will be providing letters of recommendation for students who participate and will be presented with a Certificate of Appreciation upon completion of the internship,” said Schmidt.
The Borough of Caldwell’s Internship Program is designed for those individuals with demonstrated potential to thrive in their chosen field of study at the local university, according to the governing body.
Students interested in applying must be currently enrolled in an undergraduate program at the university. Intern hours vary depending on the position.
Most recently, during the Aug. 6 borough council meeting, Caldwell University students Lamar Shea-Chang, Roksana Korbi, Ned Ogoemesim and Jose Perez presented a project that utilizes an online platform to connect the University. The mission statement of the project was to “bring the Caldwell community together by promoting business development through innovative thinking and technological implementation.”
Shea-Chang stated that as an intern for the Caldwell Borough Council, he “gained an understanding of what it feels like to make decisions in the best interest of others.”
“The enthusiasm to develop a more connected borough from my supervisors Town Administrator Tom Banker and Councilwoman Christine (Schmidt) was inspiring,” said Chang. “With my supervisors' approval, I formed a team with some of the best minds currently enrolled in the university.”
Chang added that through this partnership, he believes the Borough of Caldwell can “gain a wealth of untapped strategic approaches to curate solutions to different problems that may arise within the community.”
“The plethora of academic experiences provided by the university would, in theory, create a supply of approaches that would supersede the problems being faced within the community,” said Chang. “I believe that opportunities that take advantage of interdisciplinary approaches would be ideal within the borough’s structure to gain useful and hands-on experience. For example, the proposed project will be crossing the disciplines of data analytics, communication, technology, research and marketing.”
The four students also shared some of the problems with current business trends that were broken down to demographic outreach. Data was achieved through polling, and solutions were offered by noting the positive effects of the utilization of expanded social media platforms, such as creation of Instagram accounts.
The students noted that by capturing the attention of broader demographic groups, promotion of events and services would enhance the business’ success. The proposed project would include monthly reports to be submitted to the borough for assessment and three-month cumulative reports to be provided for a deeper dive to assess the achievement of the project’s goal, they explained.
“The primary goal of this program is to provide students with a learning experience,” Schmidt said in conclusion. “This is not a program to have students do menial tasks, but rather to give them real life experience and project-based work.”