Search within:

Cassidy Dummitt experiences transformative internship with Mid Ohio Regional Planning Commission

September 14, 2023

Author: Audrianna Wilde

Smiling brunette woman in gray shirt and black dress pants and white name badge stands next smiling short hair man with dark glasses, gray suit and light tie. They are infront of a MORPC banner and an American flag

In Hocking County, Master of Public Administration (MPA) Candidate Cassidy Dummitt became immersed in the world of public service and local government. Through her internship with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), Dummit was paired with a local government within the organization’s 15-county service area. This summer, Dummit worked for the City of Logan as an intern in the mayor’s office, where she was given the opportunity to exercise what she learned through the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service while gaining practical work experience.

After graduating with a B.A. in Political Science from the College of Arts and Sciences in 2022 and successfully completing her coursework for her one-year in-person MPA program at the Voinovich School, Dummitt searched for a job opportunity where her knowledge of the public sector and her passion for service could blossom. She hoped to take advantage of the exploratory nature of an internship to develop and strengthen her professional skills.

“I kind of identify as a shy person,” Dummitt said. “So networking has always been something that's hard for me to do. I was nervous when I started this internship because I thought, ‘Maybe they have high expectations that I should have all these connections and I should know all of these things.’”

As Dummitt dove headfirst into her new experience, however, she was happily surprised by the reality that awaited her in the City of Logan.

“They were very welcoming and they saw my skill set where it was,” Dummitt said. “They asked me, ‘What do you want to learn from this? How can we help you open more doors by the time you leave here?’”

So, Dummitt poured all her efforts into making the most out of her experience. Although Dummitt was officially an intern in the mayor’s office, she soon became witness to the interconnectedness of departments within local and state government.

Throughout her internship, Dummitt began providing project assistance and collaborating with various other city departments: the auditor’s office, utility billing, human resources, code enforcement, the police department, the service director and city council. She found herself encountering a wide range of responsibilities and tasks, such as processing financial reports, developing and updating databases, aiding in records management and organization, and maintaining the security of sensitive information.

During her internship, Dummitt enjoyed working with the mayor, as she was inspired by his passion for improving the city through implementing positive change and championing public safety. As she observed him and his work ethic, Dummitt reflected on what she had learned about organizational leadership and the public service perspective in the Voinovich School.

“A lot of my time this month, I've been preparing for my capstone and final portfolio, so I've spent a lot of time practicing introspection and thinking about what I learned from day one,” Dummitt said. “There are so many professors that I feel like I could call them up right now and tell them, ‘You showed me this’ or ‘You opened this door for me and now I'm hands-on working with that.’”

Dummitt specifically remembered her course with Dr. Lesli Johnson, where she read a book about George Voinovich, the former Cleveland mayor, U.S. senator and governor of Ohio. Reading about the Voinovich School’s namesake and his remarkable achievements made in the name of public service boosted Dummitt’s understanding of what it meant to work in a local municipality without expectations rooted in politics or profit.

“My favorite part of the program was learning and exploring the various leadership styles and skills,” Dummitt said. “We spent a lot of courses thinking about what it takes to be a good leader and how to take what you've learned in the classroom and bring it into the office.”

Cassidy Dummitt stands with a group of interns and officials during her summer internship.

Occasionally, MORPC would host events in downtown Columbus, where public-sector employees would gather to meet and learn about new policy changes and expectations. It was at these events that Dummitt was presented with the opportunity to gain confidence in her networking skills.

Dummit set a goal for herself: to make one meaningful conversation with someone new at these events. The more she introduced herself, the larger her network began to grow, as those she met connected her with their networks.

“Networking isn't there to make you feel small, it's there to meet people that want to help you get to where you want to be,” Dummitt said.

Now, with potential job leads in several other areas of public service across the state of Ohio, Dummitt is confident that she will be able to utilize her experience with the City of Logan to make her a desirable candidate wherever she may go.

“What's next is finding a job in some way, shape or form that feels fulfilling in giving back to society and making my community safer and better for everyone that lives there,” Dummitt said. “This internship has certainly prepared me for what's to come next.”

Looking back, Dummitt was thankful for her studies in the MPA program, as they proved to be a sturdy foundation to build her successful internship experience. The close friendships she built with her cohort members and the mentorship she received from professors are something she knows she will hold dear to her for the rest of her life.

“Don't take a day of the program for granted because it really does fly by fast,” Dummitt said. “There are so many professors I've met in this program that I will always cherish and I know I'll keep in touch with them throughout the years. People in the Voinovich School are there to help you, you just have to have that initiative to go seek their help and advice.”