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Your Career, Your Community

January 24, 2020 @ 11:30 am - 1:00 pm

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As a PhD student or postdoc would you like to use your expertise to work on local projects that you can then leverage for future career opportunities? A collaboration between Cornell’s Careers Beyond Academia and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County is offering lunch and a chance to hear about current local opportunities as well as a chance to tell us what you are interested in working on. We can then take those interests back to the county and city administrators and work with you and them to develop projects.

Friday, January 24 @ 11:30 to 1 pm in 100 Mann Library

To Register

We will share existing project opportunities focused on the environment, but these are continually expanding. Furthermore, you can come to us with your interests and academic specializations to have a conversation about what you’d like to work on in the local community (health, incarceration, transportation, food systems, opioids, energy, strategic tourism, early childhood…).

Come and join us for lunch on 1/24 from 11:30 AM to 1 PM in 100 Mann Library. There will be a presentation from 11:30 to about 12 and the rest of the time for (more) eating, talking and sharing of ideas. If you can’t make it until after 12 no problem, we can catch you up.

Internship Opportunities to grow your public policy resume by working in local government

With an increase in harmful algal blooms (HABs) across New York, in 2018 Governor Cuomo allocated $65 million to address the issue. Action Plans were drafted for 12 priority waterbodies, including our local Cayuga Lake. The Harmful Algal Bloom Action Plan – Cayuga Lake (Action Plan) provides extensive detail on the lake background, designated uses, water quality conditions, and sources of pollutants and includes a priority projects list (Section 13.3).

Cornell PhD students or postdocs working on projects related to the action plan would be supporting Tompkins County and be working with the oversight of the county’s Department of Planning and Sustainability.  FYI on HABs: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/jan/04/lethal-algae-blooms-an-ecosystem-out-of-balance

Benefits to you:
  • Have ownership of a deliverable you can later leverage for employment and research funding.
  • Mentorship by county staff and also community stakeholders; real-world experience of local government operations and community work.
  • Flexibility over when to work remotely and when to work on-site or in the county office. Interns will typically have the freedom to work by themselves at their own pace but with support from supervisors and community stakeholders.
  • Discover local research opportunities that can have a real impact and take the lead on directing research and funding proposals towards those.
  • Depending on the project and discussions with supervisors, weekly hours and duration can be designed to fit with your schedule (while also being compliant with Cornell regulations). 5-8 hours per week work is a ballpark figure but a lot of flexibility on that.  These projects do not work on a semester basis so duration can be adjusted to fit work volume, travel, etc.

More details on three possible projects…

    1. Grant Writing:

      Most action plans around the lake require additional funding. NYS has a consolidated funding application for all state grants, typically with the same annual application cycle (open in May, deadline in July). Local partners would benefit from delegating grant writing responsibilities to an intern who would develop skills on defining a project and developing a work plan, timeline, and budget. The intern could also research other funding options to cover cost share (local match) required for most grants. This project develops vital grant writing skills and will enable you to demonstrate your ability to work with diverse stakeholders. Depending on skill set and interest—and with the agreement of the grant team–the intern could possibly write themselves into the grant for future funded work. Timeline would be aiming for grant submission in the summer.

    2. Researching and Recommending Best Management Practices:

      HABs are on the increase nation- and world-wide. It is valuable to understand what best management practices (BMPs) are most effective at reducing the occurrence of HABs. The intern would research how other phosphorus-impaired watershed are prioritizing funding and lake and watershed management and would develop recommendations for local partners. This project, as with other projects focused on HABs, enables you to demonstrate your ability to work with diverse non-university stakeholders. Not only is this valuable for future applications to work with state-level bodies etc., but Intern work with community stakeholders can lead to paid consultancy work once value has been demonstrated. Timeline and deliverables in terms of report length and so on to be determined in conversation with county partners.

    3. Evaluating Existing Best Management Practices for the Watershed:

      The intern would use stream data and best management practices to assess effectiveness of BMPs to improve water quality and would develop recommendations for local partners (putting real numbers on what, how many, and where in the watershed BMPs would be needed to reduce phosphorus levels by what amount). This kind of BMP work on watershed management is critical to environmental management across the US. This is an opportunity to gain expertise and demonstrate value at both an academic and implementation level to seed future work. Timelines and the specifics of deliverables—beyond the indicated recommendations—are to be determined through discussion with county (but could start immediately).

For more information please contact our collaborator:

Chris Kai-Jones, PhD, MSW, Student and Community Coordinator
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County
House Fellow and Visiting Lecturer, Cornell University
chj7@cornell.edu      phone: 607 280-5846


January 24, 2020
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
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100 Mann Library
237 Mann Drive
Ithaca, NY 14853 United States
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