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Spatial sciences internships provide a valuable applied learning opportunity for students to explore future career paths and gain valuable work experience. Our undergraduate students have landed internships at companies and organizations including EsriNASA's Jet Propulsion LaboratoryThe Los Angeles Mayor's DataLA Summer AcademyMarin Municipal Water District, OnSite Engineering, the Huntington Library and Gardens, Southern California Environmental Health Science Center, BCRA Architects, among others.

Austin Chow
Courtney Fassett 
Harrison Knapp
Mia Poynor
Jacqueline Sosa
Joanna Wang
Richard Windisch
My internship at the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) has been crucial in developing my understanding of data visualization and interactive spatial media.
Will Forker, B.S. GeoDesign student

Read about the internship experience of another GeoDesign major.

Current Opportunities

The Spatial Sciences Institute has partnered with the following organizations to offer virtual unpaid internships in the Summer 2021 semester. These internships may be undertaken for credit by undergraduates by registering for SSCI 397: Spatial Sciences Internship or by masters students by registering for SSCI 596: Internship in Spatial Sciences.

The specific start and end dates, weekly schedule, and milestones will be determined by project leads with the students selected for the internships. Generally, interns should expect to commit an average of 10 hours per week throughout the semester.

These internships are open to USC students of any major, but require a background in GIS, either through coursework or by experience. Students who have been selected for an SSI funded faculty research project are not eligible for one of these internships.

To apply, please submit your resume, statement of interest for the internship opportunity you are applying for, and your STARS report to Susan Kamei, SSI Managing Director, at by 5 pm on Friday, April 16, 2021.

If you would like to be considered for more than one internship opportunity, please indicate that in your statement of interest, along with your priority ranking.

For questions or more information, please contact Susan Kamei at or Ken Watson, SSI Academic Programs Director at

USC Sea Grant Program

The USC Sea Grant Program has undergraduate internship opportunities that offer the chance to learn about USC Sea Grant efforts and apply geospatial skills to “real world’” coastal and environmental issues.

The summer opportunity involves researching and creating a geodatabase of environmental education organizations and initiatives in Los Angeles County. USC Sea Grant has a strong record of connecting ocean sciences and policy to education through partnerships and engaging with local communities. This project would serve as a resource to environmental educators in the community with visualizations and research findings used to identify ongoing efforts, potential partnerships, and gaps.

Recommended minimum skills/preparation: experience with story maps.

Ideal skills/preparation: SSCI 301: Maps and Spatial Reasoning.

Lead: Melodie Grubbs (M.S. GIST ’17), Science, Research & Policy Specialist, USC Sea Grant Program

Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) Planning Division, Research and Analysis Department

As a metropolitan planning organization – the largest in the nation – Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) is responsible for developing long-range transportation plans and a Sustainable Communities Strategy for a vast and varied region, which includes the counties of Imperial, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura. The centerpiece of that planning work is Connect SoCal, our 2020-2045 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy (RTP/SCS). The Plan charts a path toward a more mobile, sustainable, and prosperous region by making key connections: between transportation networks, between planning strategies and between the people whose collaboration can make plans a reality.

Connect SoCal is one of multiple projects that SCAG is responsible for—other projects, for instance, are the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) and Environmental Justice (EJ) Analysis. There are various projects created to support the development of the major projects such as SCAG Data/Map Books, Retail Land Use Studies, Local Profiles, and General Plan Data/Map Books. Geographic information system (GIS), data science, architectural design, mathematics, artificial intelligence, and urban planning backgrounds are key to make these projects successful. As such, SCAG is seeking potential resources to solve a vast array of regional planning and environmental issues (e.g., job/housing imbalance, housing affordability, emerging technologies, etc.).

In addition, one of SCAG’s mission is to provide services to its local partners; one of which is career development for students from local universities in the region. SCAG has been successful with such service from Cal Poly Pomona (CPP), Cal State University Northridge (CSUN), University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), and University of Southern California (USC).

As part of the University Partnership Program, SCAG partners with the USC Spatial Sciences Institute to provide GIS and technical assistance. Under general supervision, students will learn and perform a variety of administrative and technical duties in support of the Research and Analysis Department of Planning Division. Students will primarily assist in performing spatial database management, mapping, and geoprocessing, conducting research and data analysis, and providing GIS services.


1. Regional Land Use Data Development: • Project timeline: Spring 2021 – Fall 2021 • Updating parcel-level land use information for 191 cities and 6 counties in the SCAG Region • Including general plan land use, specific plan land use, zoning, and existing land use • Leveraging Python programming with ArcGIS to automate workflows • Digitizing land use and density/intensity information in GIS format

2. SCAG Data/Map Book Development: • Project timeline: Summer 2021 – Winter 2021 • Producing 197 Data/Map Books for 191 cities and 6 counties in the SCAG Region • Leveraging Python programming with ArcGIS to automate mapping/visualization workflows

Potential candidates will be helping two to three days a week up with at least 10 hours.

Student Qualifications: Ideal candidates should understand whole systems of components workflow – from planning procedures, data geoprocessing, and land use policies to architecture geo-design, environmental impact computational assessments by using computer simulations, modeling, numerical techniques, and statistical data analysis.

Expected Outcomes: The major expected outcomes for students would be regional planning knowledge and enhancement in GIS and programming skills (e.g., Python, SAS, R, VBA, etc.). SCAG utilizes state of the art technologies and methodologies to support and develop Connect SoCal. As such, students would learn how to work professionally with SCAG staff and achieve potential skills such as collaboration, communication, presentation, and organization.

Recommended skills/preparation: minimum SSCI 381: Statistics for the Spatial Sciences and/or SSCI 382: Principles of Geographic Information Science; SSCI 383: Geospatial Modeling and Customization preferred;  basic spatial analysis skills; database management and query for modification; programming (Python) knowledge recommended for Data Quality/Quality Assurance

Leads: Tom Vo, Senior Regional Planner, and Jung Seo, Senior Regional Planner,
Southern California Association of Governments

National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency delivers world-class geospatial intelligence that provides a decisive advantage to policymakers, warfighters, intelligence professionals, and first responders. Both an intelligence agency and combat support agency, NGA enables the U.S. Intelligence community and the Department of Defense to fulfill the president's national security priorities. Additional information, including contact info for applying, can be found here. 

Use GIS and remote sensing to help NASA address community issues. The NASA DEVELOP program aims to recruit current students, recent college graduates and career transitioning professionals. This is a great opportunity for individuals who are interested in practical applications of remote sensing and GIS, specifically in the field of Earth Science. DEVELOP projects focus on addressing local and international community concerns while utilizing NASA's Earth observations.

Participants work in teams, with guidance from NASA and partner science advisors, to demonstrate to partner organizations how NASA remote sensing imagery can be used in water resources, disaster management, ecological forecasting, and other applications to address environmental community concerns. DEVELOP’s projects are interdisciplinary in nature, so applications are welcome from all academic backgrounds. Additional information, including contact info for applying, can be found here.

USC Career Center Resources

The Spatial Sciences Institute collaborates with the USC Career Center to help students identify opportunities to apply the skills and competencies they have learned in the classroom toward a productive career path. Geodesign internships, fellowships, grants, and employment openings are available through connectSC. We encourage students to review current openings by logging on to connectSC using your USC net ID. Students can find information for openings in locations throughout the country. These listings are continuously updated, so it is a good idea to check back frequently.

Employers seeking applicants for either paid or unpaid positions are advised to create a profile with the USC Career Center. In addition, information for opportunities can be sent directly to Ken Watson, Academic Programs Director, for direct posting to students via internal message boards and social media. Please be sure to include a brief description of the position available, desired qualifications and requirements along with instructions on how to apply. We welcome new partnerships on an on-going basis.