Keys to the First Year MPA Experience
Last week the wonderful Susan Austin (our beloved Career Services Director) came to Newton to do my mid-summer site visit to ensure that I was causing minimal damage to the UNC MPA program reputation. One of the things we discussed was the various skills that I developed in the first year of the MPA program that I have been using during my internship. Reflecting on that topic, I created the following list of the two most important skills to develop during the first year of the MPA program.
More and more in the public sector, managers are looking at data to drive their decision making. Having the ability to perform quality quantitative analysis is critical in making yourself an invaluable team member. Through the PA Analysis and Evaluation course, the program offers students a great chance to perform real-world research and produce a professional quality work product. During my internship, I have gone back to the skills that I learned in that class on a weekly, if not daily, basis. For alumni who are looking to improve this skill, Coursera offers high quality free online courses on quantitative analysis.
Perhaps it’s my experience as a collegiate debater at Willamette University and former assistant debate coach at Linfield College, but I firmly believe that public speaking is one of the most important skills for the modern-day professional. Between board meetings, conferences, staff meetings, and community functions leaders are regularly expected to speak publicly. First year students should embrace the opportunities provided to practice public speaking in the Professional Communications course where constructive feedback is given in a supportive environment. People can further develop their public speaking skills with the Toastmasters organization which has chapters nationwide and seeks to help individuals grow in their public speaking skill and confidence.