MDOT-MSU Interns Prove to be Valuable Resource

A group shot of 2017 MDOT-MSU interns and their mentors

When Kathlina Richburg interned with the Office of Planning for the Maryland Aviation Administration (MAA) as part of the MDOT/MSU Graduate School Internship Program, they weren't quite sure how she would be used.

But her background as a master's degree student in City and Regional Planning at Morgan State University proved invaluable when the MAA needed to relocate a maintenance facility. She worked with the maintenance crew on a daily basis, ensuring the new facility would accommodate all the needed equipment, and her concepts were formally adopted.Frank Barber of MDOT awards a certificate to intern Blessing Esimobi

"If she weren't there, it wouldn't have been done in the timeframe - the airport definitely benefited from the program," said Wayne Schuster, director of the Office of Planning. He told the story at a luncheon, held on June 27, 2017, at Morgan to honor the interns and their mentors. The year-long, competitive program allows interns to work full time during the summer and part time during the school year. Not only do the interns gain real-world experience, they make significant contributions to MDOT.

Dr. Charles Glass, the assistant secretary for Transportation Policy Analysis and Planning for MDOT and the keynote speaker at the luncheon, noted, "This program exemplifies what MDOT tries to do with workforce development. We have 10,000 employees and we have a lot of people retiring."

Blessing Esimobi, an MBA student, worked with the Motor Vehicle Administration. "We actually wrote processes for them - we did standard operating procedures," she said. "We had to collaborate with managers and employees."

She really enjoyed "working with everyone and working through something that hadn't been done before - we had to learn on the job."

MBA student Nikki Njoku interned in human resources. "I liked the people I worked with and the office environment," she said. "It was very positive and it gave me opportunities to learn and grow."

The 30-year-old program once was exclusively transportation students, but now it includes students from engineering, architecture and planning, business and the liberal arts. The next group of interns will start on July 11, 2017 and work until June 2018.

"It's truly an interdisciplinary program, and one that we're extremely proud of," said Dr. Andrew Farkas, director of both the National Transportation Center and the U.S. Department of Transportation's Urban Mobility & Equity Center at Morgan, which partner with MDOT to manage the program.