Experts in public affairs conduct speed mentoring events with MPA program

Author: M. Ernita Joaquin, Associate Professor of Public Administration
September 25, 2023

The Master of Public Administration (MPA) program successfully completed its first-ever speed mentoring project with the program’s board of advisors. On August 29 and September 14, graduate students and recent alumni took advantage of the advisory board’s in-house expertise in the fields of government, academic, business and nonprofit leadership.

Headshots of speed mentors

  MPA Program speed mentors

The events, conducted both at noon and in the evening, provided students nuggets of professional wisdom and lessons on civic engagement, organizational and public change management from experts such as Traci Lester, Lesley Miller, Regina Neu, Tina Olson, Maria Saguisag-Sid, Jim Schutz and Kenneth Songco. Some of the program’s advisors received their bachelor's or MPA degrees from SF State.

The speed mentoring project, led by Associate Professor Ernita Joaquin and the officers of the SF State University Chapter of the International City and County Management Association (ICMA)Joana De Sousa, Sidney Bliss, Mikayla Denney, Yami Kofuma-Henry and Grant Miller — allowed participants to interact with the board through break-out Zoom sessions. Beside informing students of their professions and initiatives that supplement what MPA students learn from the program, the mentors shared their personal journeys, stories, job- and life hacks and trends that aspiring public executives should note.

While all mentors spoke of equity and public service values, each had unique tips to offer. Neu, for instance, talked about finding “your special sauce” in career decision making and selling it. Olson explained why people who are flexible are successful and the importance of learning to manage people remotely. Schutz emphasized equity in resume preparation and in working in diverse departments as one moves up an organization. Saguisag-Sid urged finding out what stakeholders deem important and recognizing when a job is no longer a good fit. Lester spoke on transitioning into new roles, battling the imposter syndrome and how through voluntary activities, one could get a position created just for them. Miller called attention to  supplemental training courses and applying for jobs that have training involved. Finally, Songco emphasized the importance of self-reflection, motivation and diplomacy in public service.

Attendees appreciated the sessions and the wealth of experience the board has to offer. The success of this project suggests a similar undertaking in the future.

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