Internship: Participatory Asset Mapping In Panama City

The MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) is a center for planning and development within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning. CoLab supports the development and use of knowledge from excluded communities to deepen civic engagement, improve community practice, inform policy, mobilize community assets, and generate shared wealth.

The proposed internship is part of a larger project in partnership with Conservatorio, a real state developer working on revitalizing San Felipe, Santa Ana and El Chorrillo, that advocates for approaches that include the community as a key actor in the process of creating shared value.

The larger project is focused on understanding the assets and needs of the community in Santa Ana, together with exploring the potential to create leadership and organization, in order to build a shared vision to inform and support a socially responsible urban revitalization process. CoLab will hire student interns for 4 weeks during the month of January to develop participatory asset and needs maps, and co-design and co-facilitate workshops in Santa Ana, Panama City. 


Casco Antiguo refers to the area where Panama City was re-founded in 1673, and it is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Casco Antiguo is located within the current neighborhood of San Felipe, a community that has suffered the pressures of development, resulting in high incidences of displacement. Santa Ana, adjacent to San Felipe, is the natural location for the expansion of the revitalization process and is currently undergoing the same development pressures that transformed San Felipe. Conservatorio, as a developer working in the area, is seeking to do development and revitalization differently than it has been approached within the dominant economic development model. Conservatorio’s understanding of the negative externalities created by traditional approaches to real estate development – namely displacement of residents/local businesses and destruction of heritage – sets up a framework for collaboration with CoLab through the bases of a mutual desire to pursue a more equitable and inclusive approach.

By co-designing a participatory, asset-based model, this effort is intended to push thinking and practices for responsible and equitable revitalization, and work towards developing a shared vision for sustainable development among a diverse group of stakeholders in Santa Ana, providing not only a tool for development, but a space for community organization and leadership.

The internship will begin in early January and requires a commitment of 4 weeks, 40 hours a week. Interns will be based in Panama City for 2-3 weeks of the internship. Preparation will require attending two intensive orientation and workshop sessions in mid-late November (dates TBD with the interns). CoLab is seeking interns with relevant interests, capacities, and experiences to support with:

  • Co-facilitation of training workshops , focus group discussions and interviews
  • Asset-based mapping
  • Data analysis and interpretation

Once the work is completed, every CoLab intern will be required to produce a blog post for CoLab Radio documenting their internship experience. The project will cover lodging and transportation expenses, both airfare and ground transportation. Meals are not included as part of the project budget. Students will receive a $1500 stipend for work done in January. 


Applicants should be fluent in spanish, self-motivated with strong interpersonal skills, and have experience working with people of all ages and with a wide variety of life experiences.

Students with one or more of the following skills or areas of expertise are encouraged to apply:

  • Community economic development
  • Real estate development
  • Participatory Action Researcher
  • Quantitative data gathering and analysis
  • Media and/or journalism
  • Spatial analysis, mapping and GIS
  • Community organizing or community engagement

Please bear in mind that we will be looking for a group with complementary skills, but comfortable stepping out of their area of expertise. In other words, being comfortable with being uncomfortable will be a valuable skill.

Work-study students encouraged to apply.


To Apply
For further detail inquiry about salary or number of students please contact Oscar Natividad Puig at To apply please submit the following materials to the same contact by October 30, 2016. Interviews will be schedule late October/early November.

  • Résumé
  • Cover letter summarizing your interest in the position and relevant experience brought to the project
  • Certificate in Spanish language and/or short writing sample in Spanish (if existing)
  • Work sample that demonstrates any of the above mentioned skills, particularly relevant for those who want to show mapping skills (if existing)


Diversity and Inclusion

CoLab supports The MIT-Institute, Community & Equity Office’s (ICEO) mission: “To advance a respectful and caring community that embraces diversity and empowers everyone to learn and do their best at MIT.” (taken:  Therefore Women, LGBTQ, Students of Color, Latinx, and International Students are encouraged to apply.