Chapel Hill student interns with City of Natchitoches


A public policy and business administration student at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Raymond Palma, found an opportunity to expand his undergraduate skills interning with the City of Natchitoches and Natchitoches Economic Development Alliance (NEDA).

Palma forged the internship after reaching out to the Natchitoches Mayor’s office and NEDA. Originally from Durham, NC, Palma wanted to experience the challenges that face rural towns, governments and economies. After having visited Louisiana several times, Palma picked Natchitoches to seek an internship.

The chance to push himself out of his comfort zone and expand his knowledge of a small-town community was a driving force in his decision to pursue the internship.

“I’ve already learned so much about Natchitoches,” Palma said.  “I’m incredibly excited for the next seven weeks and truly believe that I’ll be able to take the things I learn, and the perspectives I gain, to serve all people of my state to the best of my abilities.”

Palma’s position will help him learn about local legislation, the challenges town governments face and issues local businesses encounter. Some of his responsibilities with the Mayor’s office include debriefings of city contract proposals, creating summaries for legislative material, note taking, policy discussions with Mayor Ronnie Williams Jr. and an independent project. His duties with NEDA involve reviewing request for proposal documents, note taking during meetings and creating marketing materials.

Palma said since the start of his internship, he’s learned a tale of two worlds, contrasting urban areas, like his home, Durham, and rural communities, like Natchitoches.

Large population count, adding paved roads and creating businesses to make competition is something Palma said he has taken for granted living in a big city. His first week in Natchitoches has already provided insight on how different areas require unique solutions.

Palma will intern from June 10 until the first week in August.