This summer, two talented graduate student interns joined the team at our headquarters in Rockville, Maryland – Alexis Robinson and Rachel Lesniak. Both contributed immensely to our staff’s work and we are thrilled to keep them on board! Alexis will be interning part-time this fall while completing her Masters of Community Planning degree at the University of Maryland. Rachel joined our team as a full-time Transportation Analyst and is pursuing her Master of Professional Studies degree at Georgetown University part-time.
Alexis grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland, and holds a B.S. in Environmental Science and Policy from the University of Maryland and previously worked as a bus operator for the school’s system. As a grad student this spring, she attended the annual career fair at the University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and visited Foursquare ITP’s booth, where she connected with University of Maryland Community Planning alumni and Senior Transportation Planners Sandy Davis and Michael Weinberger, also our Public Outreach Practice Lead.
During the summer, Alexis primarily supported our team on the Maryland Transit Administration’s (MTA) BaltimoreLink Transit Network Redesign by assisting Michael in facilitating outreach efforts, including community workshops and pop-up events. She also worked with Sandy on route map making and stop sequencing and assisted Senior Transportation Planner Katie Filardo in conducting “in-reach” to MTA bus operators. As Alexis says, “BaltimoreLink is the project that never sleeps,” and she’s excited for her continued involvement this fall.
What I have learned most from this internship is the follow through of principles that you learn in the classroom. I was most impressed that everyone is willing to lend a hand to all projects. Foursquare ITP is a community effort and everyone’s specialties are utilized. Lora [Byala] runs this place like a boss (in the most colloquial sense). I am always motivated and inspired by her…The way others speak [about] how she runs Foursquare ITP is always positive and usually includes some mention of how it has made them a better communicator, writer, or planner.
– Alexis Robinson, Transportation Planning Intern
Rachel is a Midwesterner who grew up in Chicago’s western suburbs with virtually no public transit. She moved to Washington, D.C. to attend George Washington University where she earned her B.A. in English. As Rachel puts it, “D.C. introduced me to the magic of buses, rail, and bikeshare. Seeing protected bike lanes on L Street, NW made me want to create them in my hometown. After working two years at a law firm, I decided to try grad school part-time with the hope of creating attractive transit in the suburbs.” In light of Rachel’s newfound passion, a former coworker connected her with Foursquare ITP Transportation Planner Alexandra Cohen.
This summer, Rachel evaluated new capital needs projects for inclusion in the TERM Lite asset management inventory for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), drafted and designed an executive summary for the Virginia Office of Intermodal Planning and Investment’s VTrans2040 Statewide Multimodal Transportation Plan, performed analysis for the Central Ohio Transit Authority’s (COTA) Title VI Analysis for the Transit System Redesign, and conducted public outreach for MTA’s BaltimoreLink Transit Network Redesign. In her new full-time role, Rachel is already delving into new projects, including planning support for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT)’s DC Circulator bus system.
While I would have learned conceptual things about Title VI and public outreach in a classroom, learning how planning processes actually work through the Virginia Multimodal Transportation Plan project and seeing how transit agencies prioritize needs in the WMATA Capital Needs Inventory are completely different than my classroom experiences. On my first day, the laughter at the team meeting made it obvious how much everyone likes working with each other. I knew it’d be a great internship because of that rapport. Team meetings introduced me to the wide range of work Foursquare ITP does and showed how projects ebb and flow each week. The firm’s approach to staffing is very unique. While my coworkers obviously have backgrounds in certain areas, everyone is flexible and can end up on a project depending on the direction it takes. My favorite thing is the entire company’s willingness to learn and try new things. To me, that’s a great sign the company will continue to grow and adapt.
– Rachel Lesniak, Transportation Analyst
Other Foursquare ITP interns who later transitioned into full-time staff share Alexis and Rachel’s enthusiasm for their internship experiences:
I chose Foursquare ITP for my internship because of the company’s unique dedication to employees. I appreciated how my managers personalized my internship by assigning projects that aligned with my interests and skill set. During my internship, I had the opportunity to work on a variety of transportation projects that provided skills and training I could have never received in a classroom.
– Alexandra Cohen, Transportation Planner
My internship at Foursquare ITP not only gave me an insight in to the world of transportation planning consulting, but also into the corporate culture here…It’s one thing to have an internship that affirms what sort of work you want to do professionally, but it’s another to be able to do so at a firm that values a healthy work-life balance and a positive working environment, which is why I applied to join Foursquare ITP full time.
– Oren Hirsch, Transportation Planner