Is it just me or has February felt like the longest month of the year so far? Anyway, in this blog post, I want to share some insight into what students are experiencing in the MPA program right now. For the majority of us— first and second years alike— we are engaging in the fun and challenging process of job searching.
Right now, the first-year students are dedicating a substantial amount of their time to securing a Professional Work Experience (PWE). For those who are unfamiliar, a PWE is the program’s equivalent to an internship. It is a practical component of the program, where students work as full-time public administrators for a summer. Some PWE opportunities even accept students to continue working for the following year.
Searching for a PWE is an exciting and nerve-racking time for students. They are interviewing almost every week for a position but will eventually land a job that presents a new learning opportunity. One first-year student mentioned, “I’m excited to have the opportunity to apply the skills I’ve gained from my first year in the program toward my PWE.” It is interesting to see the knowledge we accumulate throughout the year playout in real time while working. Anything from actionable feedback to analyzing the organization from Bolman and Deal’s four frames can and will make an appearance.
However, since interviewing is challenging, my advice for current and future students attempting to secure a PWE is to trust the process and know your worth. Rejections will happen and they can hurt. It is okay to feel sad about a rejection. However, it is unacceptable to let that rejection define you and keep you from pursuing opportunities that excite you and help you grow! You are valid, valued, and will land a PWE that will provide many educational opportunities!
As for the second-year students, we are still working to complete our Portfolios and many of us have been applying to jobs regularly. Many of us have felt challenged in this process, especially with COVID 19 impacts. However, the challenges have not overpowered our excitement to showcase our knowledge and skillsets both in interviews and when we accept the job of our dreams.
We are also taking the time to celebrate our friends for their successes in the job search. We are very proud of Shakera Vaughan for landing a job with the Housing and Community Department in the Town of Chapel Hill, working as the Community Connections Coordinator. Additionally, a few members in my cohort have been accepted as finalists for ICMA’s Local Government Management Fellowship, which is a thrilling way for these individuals to start their local government career. As a collective, the second-year cohort is very proud of these successes and we look forward to many more. I hope to continue sharing more success stories in the near future.