How I Spent My Summer: Dominic Finelli

zBlog Dominic Finelli Intern 2013Even as a Public Administration student, I neither imagined becoming involved in local government nor aspired to become a city planner. At Levin College at Cleveland State, I focused my research on international non-governmental agencies and their role in community development. I had the fortune to travel to Kenya and India where I interned with various nonprofits and advocated for at-risk communities. I even envisioned myself boarding a plane back to East Africa to begin my professional career after graduation. However, my placement with the City of Lakewood’s Planning and Development Department opened my eyes to opportunities I dismissed as being outside my research focus while studying at Cleveland State University.

To start, I’m incredibly grateful to the Cleveland Foundation for providing me with this experience and placing me at a host site that, on paper, did not seem to align with my past experiences. That sense of misalignment all changed when I began working on a development project geared toward the revitalization of an incredible area of Lakewood in the Uptown Madison neighborhood. My first day, I hit the pavement conducting a parking study and talking to business owners and neighborhood residents to get their opinions on what is needed in their community. I had an “a-ha” moment where I realized that my community development in rural Kenya and New Delhi prepared me for this new chapter in my professional life. Needless to say, it’s becoming more obvious by the day why the foundation placed me at my site. 

With that said, I am excited to finish up a parking study that I will present to City Council mid-August as well as a grant I am writing to obtain a Bicycle Friendly designation for the city from the League of American Bicyclists. I’m happy to be in City Hall and cannot wait to see the results of my work as this internship progresses! 

Each week we use this space to give each of our interns a chance to reflect on their internship experiences.Dominic is a graduate student from Cleveland State University. Placement: City of Lakewood