Robert Vega, Director FAC 18 / 2304 Whitis Ave. Stop G6200 78712-1508 • 512-471-7900
Downtown Austin Alliance
Spring 2011 Site ReviewPosition: GIS Intern
Student: Geography/Anthropology Senior
The Downtown Austin Alliance (DAA) is a partnership of people and businesses working to preserve and enhance the value and vitality of downtown Austin. As a non-profit, this organization serves mainly to advocate for a more livable future for downtown in all areas—economic development, transportation, retail, crime and security, and parks and arts. While this internship site appears on the surface to be a routine desk job, interning with the DAA provides a project-based experience that incorporates both field work (practicum) as well as traditional office work. The DAA’s technical requirements for this position are that 1) the student be receiving course credit and 2) the student works around 20 hours a week. Of these 20 hours, the DAA prefers for the shifts to be in longer chunks—i.e. daily 4 hour shifts versus working a few hours here and there.
As the GIS intern, the typical “Day in the Life” is a mixture of meetings, field work, and data entry. The typical shift usually begins with a meeting. These meetings allow an intern to experience the day-to-day ongoings of the organization. Typically, GIS interns will then head out into downtown on foot to map retail data for the GIS database. Sometimes this mapping spans the entire day—sometimes there is time to go back into the office. Once back from the field, interns then update the database with relevant/new information (new retailers, mergers, moved businesses, etc). Once the database is up to date, interns then create and manipulate maps detailing each of downtown Austin’s districts (Warehouse, Sixth Street, Market, etc), as well as providing statistical information (percent bar/percent retail, largest/smallest square footage, etc). Because this internship is project-based, interns largely work on their own and assume the same full responsibilities as a typical staff member. With this internship, interns feel part of the actual team—not merely underlings completing grunt work.