20141276 IMPACT_Winter2015_13corrected

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D I R E C T O R ' S C O L U M N I am thrilled to report that last summer we successfully recruited the largest incoming class of students in the history of the program. Sixty-eight new students joined the MPA program for fall 2014 (28 on- campus students and 40 online students). This growth, predicted to continue, means that our program will have a greater impact on more communities and organizations through an increased number of Carolina- trained public service leaders. An important part of that training is the required professional work experience (PWE). I cannot count the number of times I hear alumni reference the importance of their PWEs when talking about their careers in public service. Many cite successful career-long mentorships that began with a PWE, how the PWE changed his or her career trajectory, the significance of the PWE in obtaining a first job, or the opportunity to acquire experience in a particular functional area such as budgeting. Given its value to the program and our students, the PWE has been further integrated into the competency-based curriculum. Before students begin their PWEs, we now require a signed employment contract with the employer that describes how the proposed work experience serves a public purpose and what projects or responsibilities will be assigned to the student. The contract ensures the PWE is meeting the needs of both the employer and student. In addition to the employment contract, each student also must submit a learning contract for review and approval by one of our career services directors describing his or her personal learning goals through the PWE. For example, a student providing staff support to a local government advisory board will aim to observe and analyze the various leadership and communication practices of the nonprofit organizations that are most successful in obtaining funding from the board. Upon completing their PWEs, students must enroll in a new course that requires them to write an organizational analysis paper about their experience. The paper about their course work and PWE to demonstrate the following competencies: • Analyze the organization and its environments from multiple perspectives, and apply that analysis in assessing alternative courses of action • Know and apply public service values and legal and ethical principles • Create and use project management and program plans • Read, listen, and think critically • Write and speak clearly, concisely, and unambiguously The paper satisfies a requirement of the PWE course and ultimately becomes part of the student's portfolio. It also serves as a writing and research sample when applying for jobs. Alumni, faculty, and staff members are instrumental in the success of the PWE experience. Many thanks to all of you who play an important role in helping students maximize their learning experiences. My door is always open. Please visit if you are in Chapel Hill, or contact me anytime with questions or suggestions about our MPA program at rivenbark@sog.unc.edu or 919.962.3707. 2 William C. Rivenbark Professor and Director William C. Rivenbark

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