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At the center of the Institute for Public Administrations (IPA) commitment to public service is the opportunity to immerse students in hands-on learning experiences through internships, fellowships, and work placement programs.
Each year, IPA celebrates its graduating student workers as they move on to begin careers in Delaware and beyond. This summer, we had the opportunity to chat with three MPA 19 graduatesDavis Braun, Christine Hoh, and Jeffrey Martindaleas they transitioned from students to full-time professionals. They shared with us how their experiences as MPA students and IPA student fellows influenced their paths forward, what they will be doing in their new roles, and tips for students as they navigate the transition from graduate student to employment.
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Davis Braun (MPA 19), a former graduate public administration fellow and 2019 legislative fellow with IPA, has accepted the role of budget analyst within the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation through the Presidential Management Fellows Program.
Davis Braun, MPA 19
Budget Analyst (Presidential Management Fellow), U.S. Dept. of Interior Bureau of Reclamation
Former IPA Graduate Public Administration Fellow, 2019 Legislative Fellow
Q: How did you hear about the Presidential Management Fellows Program? What will you be doing in your role through the program?
A: I knew from Dr. Lewis seminar course, visiting Washington, and speaking with others that the federal government was one of the areas I wanted to look into following the completion of the MPA program. From there, I eventually learned of the Presidential Management Fellows Program, a highly selective and prestigious two-year training and leadership development program within U.S. government agencies. The fellowship is considered to be a gateway for young professionals with an advanced degree into federal government employment. Once youre accepted into the fellowship program, agencies share roles specific to the Presidential Management Fellowship Program on a job board. There are also some rotational opportunities within the program, but I will be in the Bureau of Reclamation in Washington, D.C., working as a budget analyst.
The next two years will really help me find my footing in terms of my career trajectory. Im interested in it because of my interest in finance, but also because there are travel opportunities available. A lot of the work Ill be doing in focusing on the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamations Mid-Pacific region, which is basically all of Nevada north of Las Vegas and most of central California, so there will be some travel. Its definitely something I plan to do in the longer-term, but I'm not trying to plan out my entire career just yet.
Q: What do you think has prepared you most for your role as a Presidential Management Fellow?
A: I would say that the first MPA seminar course and having the opportunity for so many other people to come in and tell us what they do from IPA and elsewhere definitely helped prepare me, as did the trip to Washington, learning about UD graduates who work there, and learning about all of the opportunities you can pursue with an MPA degree. For this position itself, I would definitely say that Dr. Smiths budget-focused course was very helpful, as well as his teaching methods. Theres no way I would be going into this role without learning any of that because I had no background in that before coming into the MPA program. What I also think really helped was the professional experience through IPA. I did a lot of local comprehensive planning work that wasnt always directly related to budget analysis position, but it was professional work that I could reference and highlight during my interview and application process. I had coursework in performance management and financial management, and my capstone was all financial or budget-focused. These were all things in the interview that I could point to without having a budget analyst internship on my resume.
Q: Advice for students who are preparing for the interview process?
A: I feel like it gets said a lot, but try to take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, especially meeting people and trying new professional things, because thats where you can learn more about yourself and what you might enjoy going forward. As I mentioned, I had an idea of what I was interested in, but I really learned more about it and how to take that idea and turn it into a practical job skill that I would enjoy doing.
Christine Hoh (MPA 19), a former graduate public administration fellow and 2019 legislative fellow with IPA, is working with the Cities of Milford and Lewes as an ICMA local government management fellow.
Christine Hoh, MPA 19
ICMA Local Government Management Fellow, Cities of Milford and Lewes
Q: What will you be doing in your new role as an ICMA local government management fellow?
A: Im working with the City of Milford and the City of Lewes. A lot of my role is assistant city manager work, so Ive been working on different HR policies, budgeting, and taking minutes at meetings. The fellowship encompasses a lot of different things because city management is just doing everything. Its nice to get a very wide perspective on this to see if its a field I want to pursue. In general, Im excited because this role is supposed to train you to be a city manager and fast-track you to that position.
Q: What experiences as an IPA fellow and MPA student helped inform your career trajectory?
A: When I first got to the University of Delaware, I started out with an IPA assistantship with Julia OHanlon. Through that, I worked on the Senior Center Grant-in-Aid Project, which was evaluating senior centers and then reporting that to the state government. I was also part of the Age-Friendly Communities Project, which was working a lot in Sussex County with a couple of different communities to see what makes an age-friendly community, what kind of gaps they have there, and working with the local government leaders there to see what we could do to help and identify stakeholders. I think that was a really different and beneficial look at local government than what Ive had before. I also was a 2019 Legislative Fellow, so obviously that was a very nice introduction to the world of state government. Overall, I had a little bit of local government and state government experience during my time at IPA, which is really awesome because I didnt have those experiences before coming here. Because of all of this, I felt that I was able to apply for the position Im now in and continue on in the local government field.
Q: What do you think has prepared you most for your new role?
A: It was definitely the IPA staff I worked with. Julia was really good at being a mentor and sharing different opportunities within local government. I also believe all of the hands-on opportunities Ive had while at IPA has really helped because its something I couldnt have gotten anywhere else. I think my Legislative Fellows opportunity and my assistantship are the main things that really prepared me for this. The fact that people here are really focused on public service is something that ICMA really appreciated when I was going through the application process.
Jeffrey Martindale (MPA 19), a former graduate public administration fellow and 2018 legislative fellow with IPA, now serves as assistant to the city manager for the City of Newark.
Jeffrey Martindale, MPA '19
Assistant to the City Manager, City of Newark
Former IPA Graduate Public Administration Fellow, 2018 Legislative Fellow
Q: What will you be doing in your new role as Assistant to the City Manager of Newark?
A: My role has a lot of different responsibilities when it comes to assisting the city manager, including oversight of several administrative functions of the office such as contract development and serving as the safety committee liaison. Im also the one helping out when it comes to project management services on special projects.
Q: What do you think has prepared you most for your new role?
A: The biggest thing for me is Ive had previous experience at the federal and state level. I've always wanted to be involved in government and be directly impactful. Additionally, because of my role in the Boy Scouts and then the Eagle Scouts I believed in community service from an early age. I worked with the Department of Commerce in D.C. for a summer and realized I didnt want to work for the federal government just because its easy to get lost in the bureaucracy. The same thing with the state, as I really enjoyed my work as a legislative fellow but I felt like I want to do something that challenged me a bit more than that. I realized that if I really wanted to get back to that ground-level space of impacting the public that the local government space is the place to do that. All of that prepared me to begin looking in the local government realm.
Q: Why do you think its important for students to consider local government management positions?
A: Againand this is going back to my roots with the Boy Scouts growing upI think that its important because its a great way to be impactful and help your community as much as possible. I feel like thats consistent with a lot of other MPA students as well. Some people get caught up in the politics of things going on in the world and think that jumping into the political sphere is the only way to make an impact, but I think that taking these skills and putting them into use in a role that can be impactful to the public is equally important.
Q: Do you have any advice for students who are preparing for the interview process?
A: Its good to keep resumes and general cover letters updated at all times. That was really useful for me. Additionally, I recommend that students just do their research before going into any interviews. I went into my interview with the City of Newark after having studied their comprehensive plan and their budget plan. This was a good way for me to show that I knew what I was talking about, I knew who the important players were, and that I was in a position to be able to have an immediate impact for the office.
The University of Delawares Institute for Public Administration (IPA) addresses the policy, planning, and management needs of its partners through the integration of applied research, professional development and the education of tomorrows leaders.