By Bo-Sen Shao, USC Master of International Public Policy and Management, 2020
This is the second in a series of articles dedicated to intern and concurrent work/school experiences - public sector, private sector and also non-profit sector.
Intern Patrick Lewis, a second-year Master of Planning student at USC Sol Price School, is also the incoming president of USC's student-led tree planting and environmental justice organization, Trees by Trojans (TxT). He completed his undergraduate degree in sociology with a minor in Spanish at University of California, Davis and worked on-campus there for a student run bus company, ‘Unitrans,’ where he drove vintage double-decker buses!
Prior to his studies at USC, Lewis worked in advertising operations for Hulu in Santa Monica and for Twitter in San Francisco, specializing in project management, product testing, and sales support, in addition to taking on many other responsibilities. Lewis joined the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) this summer as a Student Professional Worker in the Active Transportation Division. He learned of this internship during his first year at USC from a second-year student who was working in the same division.
One of Lewis’ primary tasks at LADOT is contributing to the City’s bike parking project. “The City of Los Angeles, via LADOT, installs bike racks at the curb for individuals and businesses that request them within the city, free of charge,” he explained. “I catalog those requests, verify that the locations are suitable for bike racks, confirm and mark the locations in the field, and schedule their installation with our contractor. One of the barriers to entry for riding bikes in an urban environment is secure, reliable bike parking. This project seeks to resolve that issue.”
In addition to the bike parking project, Lewis also works on bike corrals, bike repair stations, and larger bike infrastructure projects such as the Spring Street two-way protected bike lane, and the Winnetka Ave street improvements project. Lewis’ role at LADOT also includes research and investigation of new or planned bike lanes or other bicycle infrastructure projects, visual communications, and community outreach. He works about twenty to thirty hours per week, and will contribute a total of one thousand hours to the internship. “I am lucky to be able to work on many different bicycle and active transportation infrastructure projects” says Lewis, reflecting on his time at LADOT.
Lewis brought useful skills to the position, including proficiency in Microsoft Office, Adobe Creative Suite, ArcGIS, and Synchro, among others, and credits these skills with helping him to secure the job. His passion for safe streets for pedestrians and bikers, ‘people skills’, public speaking, troubleshooting and issue documentation helped, and finds them quite useful in his daily tasks especially, he remarks, “enthusiasm and a bias to (say) ‘yes’!”
“I have learned so much about how our city operates, how transportation planners work in the real world, and how the public and private sectors work together to deliver results for constituents.” says Lewis, adding that he is thoroughly enjoying his internship. He advices current students to get an internship, “The experience you gain by working alongside experienced planners and engineers is so important,” he said. “Know as much about the organization or agency where you want to work as you can before you apply and interview- you should be able to tell the interviewer what the company does or what they are working on already.”
Advocating for biking in Los Angeles, Lewis says, "Ride a bike! It's great exercise, fun, cheap, green, and so many destinations in Los Angeles are a bikeable distance from your home, work, or USC. If you don't own a bike, try a bike share! If biking isn't your thing, try a scooter or skateboard, and of course, take the bus, ride trains and carpool! And if you know of a business or destination in the City of LA that does not have adequate, secure bike parking, you can request it on LADOT’s Active Transportation website!”