Internships, Career and Internship Center, Political Science, School of Liberal Arts
Matt Smith trooper internship in front of the white house
This is an image caption.

Matthew Smith '22 wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do with his life. In a moment of introspection from his 11th floor balcony overlooking Washington, D.C., he thought about his future. The political science major was spending a semester in the nation's capital working with the Environmental Protection Agency as part of Siena's Washington Semester Program. He enjoyed the work, but he wasn't passionate about it. He needed a sign, and then there it was sprawled out beautifully in front of him.

"Looking out from the balcony, I had this top down view of the city, and all of a sudden something clicked. I had this epiphany. Seeing Washington sprawled out in front of me, I thought I could get into city planning."

Matthew had always been fascinated by the cities he could build, virtually, with his fingers. VIdeo games like Civilization V put players in control of city building, but Matthew never considered it a career choice until his epiphany 11 stories over D.C. To get started, he figured he needed an internship. When he couldn't find one, he contacted Sustainable Saratoga, got in touch with his now supervisor, and talked his way into an internship. 

Matthew is interning with the city of Saratoga Springs and learning about how the planning process works. It's a misconception that you conceive of an idea and then immediately execute. Matthew figures, in reality, it's more 25 percent fun projects and 75 percent local law, but learning the protocols for permits and procedures is critical to the job. 

Matthew's learning the role of a project manager. When projects are announced, he sits in on bid openings and enjoys the fact that no two days are the same. He's also played a meaningful role in the Complete Streets project. Enhanced ADA accessibility and designated bike lanes ensure safe travel for everyone, whether walking, rolling, or riding. Matthew can drive the through Saratoga and see the difference he's already made, which is what it's all about.

There's an obvious appeal to urban planning, but Matthew also enjoys the idea of rural planning. But, before he decides which city he'll help to build next, he's likely to pursue a master's in urban and regional planning.

"I've always wanted to help people, but I wasn't sure how that desire could intersect with what I do best and what would make me happy. Now I'll have the chance to consider how proposed planning decisions will impact people socially and economically, and I can work with environmentalists and make smart choices for the community." 

Matthew Smith '22