"It’s not what you know but it’s who you know," is a cliché statement that most people are all too familiar with. That declaration was my motivation during college to kill my introverted tendencies and teach myself how to network. That declaration also gave me comfort during finals week when Red Bull and sweat pants were the only things that made sense. It wasn’t until I started my Master’s program in Public Administration and Policy (MPAP) at American that I realized I was previously focusing on a mantra that wouldn’t get me very far. Why did I feel the need to ignore my quest for knowledge by saying ultimately it didn’t matter what I learned? I realized that I needed to celebrate both my appetite for knowledge and my desire to expand my connections network. I recently finished my first term of graduate school and I learned something crucial, it led me to create my new mantra "It’s about what you know and who you know." This new mantra not only makes more sense of why I decided to get my Master’s in Public Administration and Policy but it also does a great job of providing a fundamental perspective for evaluating the effectiveness of my graduate program.
My decision for choosing American University’s School of Public Affairs was led by the schools’ reputation, faculty, and learning experience. Almost a year ago when I was in the process of comparing my current program to other school’s public administration and public policy programs I found there was no competition. American’s MPAP program was the only program where I could see myself being fully positioned and prepared for my career goals. My ultimate desires for my career include being a consultant for public service organizations and eventually running for office in either state or local government. I wouldn’t classify my career goals as being the most specific, but I do know they require specific training and skills for them to become a reality.
To take you all more in depth, I would say there are three main skills that American’s MPAP program provides that are necessary for my specific career goals. These skills include:
- Analytical skills that allow me to analyze different administrative challenges and construct solutions. By the end of my program I will have been taught to use knowledge on organizational structures and systems to develop effective management cultures and leaders.
- Research skills that can be used to evaluate programs and write policies. I am learning to use subjects like economics and statistics to create methodological and analytic frameworks that can be used for evaluation.
- Values that are essential to remaining both ethical and constitutional in administrative analysis and behaviors. Using real world values like incorporating others perspectives and being aware of the backgrounds of others are necessary when becoming a true public servant.
In all, I would say that one thing that has made me love my program even more is the faculty. It was the faculty that developed the MPAP program in the first place. As I’ve taken class after class I’ve found I’m truly gaining the best of both worlds, from policy analysis application and solutions to challenges that public administrators face every day. It’s an honor to be mentored and equipped by experts who train NGOs, lead policy research, and consult state legislation implementation. I am being exposed to what my actual career will be like working in public affairs and the reality is not every graduate program offers that.
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to be in a program that caters to my needs and positions me for my dream job. American University’s reputation and ideal location, provides the perfect environment to foster me into the public leader I hope to become. The School of Public Affairs transforms lives of students like myself and I have no doubt in my mind that come May 2018 I will walk across the stage at graduation with the knowledge, skills, and contacts needed to thrive in the public administration and policy fields.
To learn more about American University’s online Master of Public Administration and Policy, request more information or call us toll free at 855-725-7614.