Elliot Mohler (’18): Working to ensure broadband access for all Minnesotans

Posted on December 18th, 2017 by

Elliot Mohler (’18), a double major in Geography with GIS and Environmental Studies, is an intern for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. He shares about the internship below.

Who did you work for and what did you do?

During the fall 2017 semester, I worked for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development at the First National Bank Building in St. Paul. I was a Business and Community Development Intern in the Office of Broadband Development.

What were some of your daily tasks?

My daily tasks included creating maps with ArcGIS for internal use. Most of the maps were created to aid in the decision making for the Border to Border Broadband Grant, a program that funds the expansion of broadband service to areas of Minnesota that are unserved or underserved.

What are some interesting projects you did for them over the semester?

One project that comes to mind would be a map that I created to assist in analyzing broadband access by school district within the state of Minnesota. More and more school districts are beginning to integrate more technology, such as iPads for students, into their curriculum. However, this becomes a hard task to accomplish if households within the district do not have adequate access to broadband services. I enjoyed this project because it brought to my attention the discrepancies in access to broadband services between the Twin Cities metro area and the rest of the state.

What advice would you give someone who is looking for or working in a Geography/GIS internship?

Geography can take you to more places than you think! Typically, one thinks of GIS internships as some of the only experiences available. Although I worked a lot with GIS at my internship, I gained valuable knowledge on economic development, interactions between state and local government, as well as the interactions between government and businesses. Throughout my internship, it became evident that geography is very useful when it comes to decision making and awarding grants. It is necessary to critically analyze grant applications in relation to the needs of individuals, communities, and businesses.

Was the internship different from what you expected it would be?

I didn’t expect to be met with such investment and support. Everyone in the workplace was supportive and approachable. Everyone was genuinely interested in my coursework at Gustavus as well as my future plans after Gustavus. Everyone wanted me to succeed and gave me the resources to do so while still challenging me to think critically and creatively. What really caught me by surprise were the opportunities for networking. Almost everyone that I worked with wanted me to meet someone else either in the department or even someone who worked for another government agency. This experience showed me that many of the employees at DEED are invested in their interns and the future prospects of their interns.

 

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