Thus far this summer, the majority of my blog posts have focused on the some of the innovations going on in Catawba County and big-picture lessons to be learned from those innovations. But for today’s entry, I wanted to focus on my personal experience interning for Catawba County. Specifically, I will talk about three things that been central to my Professional Work Experience (PWE): professional writing, understanding local government management, and determining my future career path.
I have always considered myself a relatively strong writer but when I started the MPA program, Professor Carl Sternberg and Kelly O’Brien quickly taught me the difference between a quality undergraduate paper and a quality professional memo. My main goal for my PWE was to continue to improve my professional writing skills. Seven weeks and countless memos later, I have seen noticeable improvements in my writing. Part of the improvement comes from the practice of writing numerous memos for department heads but the main driver has been an extremely supportive supervisor who has worked with me to highlight my strengths and areas for improvements in regards to writing. I am excited to continue to improve my writing when I return to the classroom in August.
Understanding Local Government Management
I only discovered the existence of city managers about eight months before starting the MPA program. Despite significant experience in politics as well as state and federal government, I knew virtually nothing about local government management. I had always figured that the mayor ran a local government in consultation with the City Council. In the months before beginning the program and during my first year in the MPA program, I learned more about local government than I knew that there was to learn but I still had never really experienced working in such an environment. Interning at Catawba County has given me that practical experience. I feel that I now have a much stronger grasp of the day-to-day operations of a local government and the various jobs responsible for those operations. I am excited to continue growing my understanding of local government management when I take Professor Nelson’s City and County Management course and Professor Ammon’s Productivity Improvement in Local Government course this fall.
Figuring out My Career Path
Unlike many of my cohort classmates who are set on achieving a specific job during their career, my career dreams have never centered on a particular job. When I applied for the program, I was honest in saying that my criteria for a successful career was not the job I held but rather if the community I worked in was made better as a result of my work. This summer has made it clear to me that working in local government might be a good career path for me that would allow me to achieve my career goal of improving my community.
Interning for Catawba County has been a great experience that has allowed me to improve my professional writing, improve my understanding local government management, and given me more information to help guide my career path.
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