Watts College, sign,

6 Watts students among latest MCLEAPS interns, experience public service fields firsthand

Six students in ASU’s Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions are getting firsthand experience in public service fields as members of the 2020-21 MCLEAPS internship program. 

MCLEAPS (Maricopa County Leadership and Education Advancing Public Service) is a partnership between Watts College and Maricopa County that trains 12 ASU students each semester. The program provides opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students to enhance their education, be exposed to public service work and increase the chances for success after graduation. 


The hands-on internship allows students to gain career-specific training and access to professional networking through coaching, mentoring and networking activities. Students apply knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to solve real-life problems and implement solutions. 

A detailed recruitment process starts with the solicitation and selection of proposals. Maricopa County departments and divisions must submit a project proposal, show proof they can provide full time work, supervision and a stipend to each intern. The proposals are then reviewed and applications begin to be accepted. Applicant workshops and interviews are held before the 12 interns are selected.

The university waives a full semester of tuition and fees for each intern. The department or agency where each student works pays a $5,000 stipend. Each intern will receive academic credit toward a degree depending on the specific requirements of its course of study.

Below are the six Watts College students who are participating in this semester’s MCLEAPS program and where in Maricopa County government their internships are located:

  • Jamie Gonzalez, a criminology and criminal justice undergraduate student in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, is an intern in the Adult Probation Department.
  • Janica Murphy is in her last year as a public policy graduate student in the School of Public Affairs and is an intern in the Human Services Department’s Administration, Policy and Planning Division.
  • Cooper Payne, a student in the 4+1 accelerated program in the School of Public Affairs, is an intern in the Human Services Workforce Development Department.
  • Logan Peiman, a first-year public affairs graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, is an intern in the School Superintendent’s Office.
  • Rachel Smith, a public service and public policy undergraduate student in the School of Public Affairs, is an intern in the Environmental Services Department.
  • Jinxin Wang, a second-year public administration graduate student in the School of Public Affairs, is an intern in the Animal Care and Control Department.

Peiman mostly works from home due to precautions taken during the COVID-19 pandemic, but goes to the office once or twice a week. She said the favorite part of her internship is “meeting all the wonderful and dedicated individuals who are committed to their communities as public servants.” She said she hopes to gain the experience of working for a local government organization and her internship teaches her how such an entity works.

Wang said her routine looks a little different since she is in the office daily organizing volunteer information, checking voicemails and doing graphic design work. She’s also working on a volunteer appreciation event and a volunteer recognition program. She also has trained for dog walking, defensive handling and volunteering. She said she hopes to gain skills in leadership, critical thinking, better time management and a better understanding of animal behaviors. Wang said she hopes to return home to China after she graduates.

Murphy’s internship involves assisting with the new Human Services Division online database to build and produce the 2020 Maricopa County Board of Supervisors district profiles. The district profiles consist of acquiring and analyzing data from all five of the divisions within Human Services that provide a wide range of services for county residents. The data can be used to tell stories from specific communities and will go into a report to the supervisors and the public. 

Murphy said that her internship has been challenging and rewarding. She said she has a passion for data analytics and accessible information and hopes to gain a better understanding of quantitative analytics and data management. She said she also hopes to find more ways to make community growth and development data more accessible.

The MCLEAPS internship is offered to all ASU students in both fall and spring semesters. To apply, undergraduate students must have achieved a minimum of 75 credits toward a 120-credit ASU degree. Transfer students must have attended a minimum of one semester at ASU prior to the start of the semester in which they will participate. Students also must have earned and maintained a 3.0 GPA or higher at ASU. Eligible students must also pass a background check administered by Maricopa County.

Information on how to apply for the spring 2021 MCLEAPS internship recruitment process is available on this page during October.

Written by Susan Wong of the ASU Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions marketing communications department.