Planning Intern Job Description

The internship level in the planning profession often represents the first practical contact a prospective planner makes with the profession. Successful internships yield valuable insight and practical knowledge for students as they refine their educational and career paths. Many internships are unpaid, yet they offer a wealth of opportunities for students, such as college credit or the possibility for permanent employment with the organization upon graduation. Interns usually are more marketable as they search for permanent employment because of their additional experience in the planning profession. Unlike most other positions within the planning profession, internship standards and circumstances vary considerably. Such variables include length of internship (from a few summer months to a year or longer), hours per week, expected tasks, amount of supervision, and areas of specialization.

Typical Functions

  • Provides support to a team of community planners
  • Assists staff in collecting and preparing data for various planning projects
  • Manages a full meeting calendar, creates and mails committee meeting packages
  • Conducts field work, collects parcel data and searches land records
  • Prepares maps and planning reports of limited or variable complexity
  • Produces sketches and renderings of limited or variable complexity
  • Assists planning staff at community meetings
  • Presents report findings at community meetings
  • Researches funding sources and writes grant proposals
  • Conducts basic office functions as needed, such as data entry, file management, and customer service

Typical Knowledge

  • Basic understanding of planning principles
  • Specific knowledge relating to pertinent specialty, such as affordable housing, transportation, or land use
  • Competency in various computer software programs, such as Microsoft Office and Internet applications

Typical Skills

  • Strong written and oral communication skills
  • Strong research and analytical skills
  • Motivated self-starter able to work independently
  • Ability to work effectively in a team environment
  • Flexibility and desire to work on varying planning projects

Minimum Qualifications

Most planning internships require some relevant coursework in the planning field along with interest in the planning profession and relevant planning specializations. Depending on the nature of the intended workload, some organizations are more rigid than others regarding qualifications for interns. Internships may be intended specifically for undergraduate students or for graduate students. Some opportunities may be open to any type of student. Short-term internships are often intended for students currently pursuing their education, though longer-term internships may be geared specifically toward recent graduates.

Updated May 2021