One of the biggest things that attracted me to the MPA program at the Voinovich School was the emphasis they placed on practical experience. While my classes are interactive and I have learned a great deal, what really resonates with me is putting the classroom taught theory into action in the field. The book Walk Out Walk On- I am reading this for my nonprofit management class-says that “living is a synonym for learning” (p. 9), which is the perfect quote to sum up the Voinovich School’s attitude towards education.
This semester I was given the opportunity to work with the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) as their Writing Contest Coordinator. In a nutshell, FAO’s writing contest asks fourth through eighth grade students who live and attend school in the 32 Ohio Appalachian counties to respond to a prompt, the essays are judged and the winning students and teachers receive prizes. My responsibility was to update all of the communications, draft the press release, and organize the mailing to all past participants, principals and superintendents as well as coordinating the judging process.
As an organization, FAO raises funds and provides grants to create opportunities for students in the Appalachian region and the writing contest is one of the only events they put on during the year. This has been an interesting experience for me because I have never worked with a grant-oriented nonprofit organization and the internship has been invaluable for me because I know now that I want to work with an organization that has more direct contact with the community. I believe that FAO does excellent work and is a huge benefit to the Appalachian counties that take advantage of what they have to offer, but there is something about seeing the faces of those you are working with that I really enjoy.
Looking forward in my educational experiences at OU, I will be switching gears and interning in a completely different environment with the Ohio University’s Women’s Center next semester. The MPA program has allowed me to use next semester’s internship as my practicum which means it will count as one of my classes and towards my graduation. Through the internship program that the Voinovich School offers, I was able to work with the Director, Susanne Dietzel and the Program Coordinator Virginia Martin to develop my goals and focus my work in areas that interest me. My goals include researching feminist theory and understanding why women’s centers exist on college campuses, understanding the constraints and opportunities of presenting events in a university setting, writing a grant and working with the center’s volunteers. I am excited to get hands-on experience working in a university-run environment, since I want to pursue my PHD; this is a potential field of work for me.
The field of public administration encompasses a variety of job opportunities, being given the chance to explore my options through classwork and practical experience will put me that much further ahead if I choose to apply for jobs or when I narrow my area of study for my applications to doctoral programs.