Gainful Employment

Happy Week 10! This is an especially happy Week 10, of all that I have experienced because I have exceptionally good news: I GOT A JOB! Luckily for me, the impromptu trip I took a couple of weeks ago for the interview paid off and I was offered the Office Administrator job with the National Guard Youth Foundation.

The foundation supports and advocated for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe program, which helps teens who have dropped out of high school get back into school, get their GEDs, and go to college or technical school. I very much believe that the main way to end the cycle of poverty is to ensure that youth receive and education and can, from there, have better opportunities. I’m so happy that I get to be a part of this organization, help to run the administrative end of the foundation and manage the scholarship program for graduated cadets.

I start my new job on June 11th! Which is kind of crazy since I am graduating on the 8th and will immediately have to move, but hey—I’m happy to have a job and not stress about job applications anymore.

I feel that I was able to get this job because of my experiences through graduate school with the Voinovich School. I’m looking forward now to expanding my professional competencies in the workplace and gaining more fulltime experience with a nonprofit organization.

I’m off now to procrastinate my final policy paper and celebrate the new job! Hope everyone has a great week!


An Afternoon with Senator Voinovich

I was honored this past week to be chosen as a student representative for the Voinovich School to have lunch with Senator Voinovich during his visit. Before lunch, I attended the panel discussion entitled “The key challenges facing the public sector,” where Senator Voinovich was one of the panelists. I found this discussion to be very enlightening and the level of experience that the guest speakers have working in the government sector was very impressive. After the panel discussion, we made our way over to Latitudes restaurant in the Baker Center, and I had the opportunity to sit right across the table from Senator Voinovich. Our table shared some great stories and brainstormed ways that we can expand the Voinovich School and improve the experience for students. I enjoyed being able to contribute my thoughts to this conversation and feel that we came up with some great improvements to make the Voinovich School experience even better than it already is.

On another note, I am FINALLY finished with my thesis. Well….almost. I feel like I have been saying that for the past week, but every day I continue to tweak it and make corrections because I am a perfectionist at heart. My thesis defense date is set for May 28th at 2:30pm in Clippinger. It is open to the public, so please stop by for some peanut butter pie and a talk about the urban composting and sustainability practices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Edinburgh, Scotland.

Hopeful Week 8

This week started with a bang, to say in the least. I had originally planned to be out of town mid-week for my mother’s birthday and a dentist appointment (need to get that in before the move!), which made

the week crazy enough. Now, I have a job interview Wednesday morning in Washington D.C.—super exciting? Yes. Totally messed with my plans this week? Also yes, but I’ll take it! Now, I’m gearing up for a drive this afternoon to Washington D.C., and I’ll be back in Athens (900 miles and roughly 16 hours of driving later) on Friday—Wish me luck!

Aside from the crazy travel schedule, classes are beginning to come to a close. We have our Economic Development Policy presentation next Wednesday, where I’m focusing on rural economic development—there’s also a paper component that I need to start drafting. I have to start thinking about my fundraising plan, also due during finals week. Also on my plate is my portfolio defense on next Tuesday (Eeeep!!).

To make things more complicated, we have to start thinking about the move. If I get a job, when it will happen; if I don’t have a job, when it will happen; renting a truck; finding an apartment; getting settled; yadda yadda yadda.

One thing at a time. Travel, school, move. If I focus on more than one at a time, I might go crazy.

Remember when I said I was ready to get out of school? Looks a little scarier now that it’s almost here!

Hope everyone has a less stressful Week 8 than I do!


Thoughts on Nearing the End of Spring Quarter

The weather is starting to look beautiful (aside from the rain) and the flowers are blooming (or so says my allergies), so I suppose it is officially spring time.

Just when it gets to the pretty part of the quarter, that’s when all the work seems to happen (funny how that works…)! I’m ramping up my job application productivity and am now actively searching for places to live in D.C.! Scary, but pretty awesome. Tonight, a bunch of second years are getting together at the library to work on our portfolio. This way, we can get feedback from each on edits and just have some overall moral support. This is one of the many reasons why I love my cohort. My portfolio is due in 11 days to my committee (Eep!), so it’s probably a good idea that we are working on it now.

In class, we just finished an “ask” simulation, where we role played a one-on-one fundraising scenario. It was informative, we got to ask questions, and we were able to critique/learn from each others presentations. I’m still not convinced fundraising is something I’ll want to go into, but activities like these make me feel much more confident.

We are beginning to work on the major portion of the class paper in Public Policy. I’m going to be working on the economic development portion (surprise!) and am looking forward to being able to use not only what I know of the PORTSfuture project, but also economic development in general.

I’m especially looking forward to this weekend—my mom is coming to visit for Mom’s weekend! I haven’t gotten the chance to go home much this quarter, so it will be really nice to be able to spend some time with her. I’m, of course, really excited about the move to D.C., but it’s a bummer to know I’ll be so far away from my family. My little brother was in town for Palmerfest this past weekend, and it was great to see him, but the time together is always too short.

In your opinion, what are the best and worst parts of making a big move? What are ways that you have found to cope with the bad parts?

Happy Week 6!

Networking and Experiencing a New City

Happy Week 4! Believe it or not, the quarter is almost half done—seems a little unreal.

This week is going to be especially crazy because I’m headed to D.C. on Wednesday morning! I’m tagging along with Brian, another second year MPA student, who is headed there on Voinovich School business. I was originally planning to try to schedule more meetings with alumni while I’m there, but decided against it.

“But, Amanda, networking is key! I can’t count the number of times you’ve talked endlessly about networking! Doesn’t it seem odd that you’re going to waste time while you are there?!!” I know, I know, devoted reader. I also appreciate your concern. However, I was just in D.C. and am going to be attending at least two Happy Hours and possibly a lunch meeting, so I’ve decided that I’m going to take some time and enjoy the city.

Something that I have heard over and over is that, once you move to the city, you don’t really do any of the touristy activities. One of the reasons why I fell in love with D.C. was the history, museums, and overall awesome-ness. I know for a fact that after the move, I won’t have time to enjoy it as much as on a fun trip there.

So I’m going to take my new copy of “The Hunger Games” (I’m finally giving in), as well as a couple of books for class, to the National Mall, enjoy the weather (sunny and 73 degrees on Thursday!) and read. And people watch. And remember why I love the city. And take in as much as I can now, before I become a hardened Washingtonian. 😉

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”― Eleanor Roosevelt

Does anyone else have any out-of-the-ordinary plans for Week 4?


The Real World: Post-Grad

After re-reading my blog post from last week, I realized that I sound like I have one foot out the door this quarter—which is kind of true, but I wanted to provide some clarification on my thoughts and feelings this week.


Getting your Master’s degree is tough—there’s no denying it. I’ve worked incredibly hard over the past year and a half at the Voinovich School, trying to put my best work forward and seize all of the opportunities that have been made available through the school. School work was always my first priority, and has been for the past 19 years.

I’m now moving into a stage of life where I hope to use everything I’ve gained through my schooling and apply it to the real world. This is so bizarre to me, since I know of nothing but school (aside from practicum, GA and internship experience—which is great, but was all done in a very safe environment). The real world is going to be different. There’s no safety net after June.

This is why I’m feeling antsy—I feel not only incredibly prepared for a “big girl” job because of the experience I’ve gained throughout the past couple of years, but also ready. I’ve spent 19 years focusing on school, so I’m ready to focus on life.

So, this quarter, be prepared for some possibly frustrated and antsy posts because I’m about to move onto another part of my life which is exciting and unnerving. I have a lot to accomplish outside of school work (i.e. job hunting, traveling to and from DC, finding apartments, closing out my work with the school, etc) that I haven’t had to deal with much before. If I don’t seem as focused this quarter, this is why!


In other news, I’m settling into classes well—Policy should be interesting because we are studying a project at the school that I was involved in loosely, and Fundraising will be a useful skill to me later in nonprofit work, so I’m looking forward to learning more about that. I’m still working on the semi- annual report for REAP, as well as a couple other small projects, so nothing new and exciting on that front.

Happy Week 2 everyone!

Spring Break Developments

Hello everyone! Happy Spring Quarter! Can you believe its spring already?! The sunshine tells me it is, but it still doesn’t feel real yet. This quarter is already shaping up to be intense!

My trip to D.C. over break was great! I was able to attend the IEDC conference and meet quite a few economic developers from across the nation. Jeff Finkle, the President and CEO (but more importantly, an OU alum and Voinovich School Fellow), was gracious enough to let me attend—the conference is always informational and I found a new topic in economic development that I want to research more! I also had the opportunity to meet with Neal Denton of the American Red Cross (also an OU alum!), who was great—I got feedback on my resume and some pointers for moving to D.C. I’m getting antsy, since it’s only a couple months away!

This quarter I’m taking Public Policy Analysis and Nonprofit Fundraising. Both classes seem like they will be interesting, and will add some extra structure to my quarter. I don’t technically need either class to graduate (could have done that last quarter), but why pass up the opportunity to learn something new? I also have my Portfolio to complete this quarter…I have all of the papers together, I just need to edit!

Work this quarter will consist of wrapping up my time at the Voinovich School. I’m working on the Semi-Annual Report to turn in at the beginning of April, as well as a final report for one of our communities. It’s bittersweet to know I’ll be leaving at the end of quarter. I’ve enjoyed my time at the school and have learned more in the last year and a half than I did in all of undergrad (things I’ll be able to apply to the real world anyway), but it feels like time to move on.

I’m finally to the point where I’m ready to graduate and start my life in D.C. I have a plan for applying for jobs, so keep your fingers crossed for me! Not having a very specific plan is torture for me (the girl who lives for her color-coded work-plans), but I’ve heard that’s the norm for many who move straight to D.C.—you have to be ready for anything.

“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” –Lewis Carroll

Whatever you say, Mr. Carroll—I’ll take your word for it!

Hope you all have a great Week 1!