Job Applicability of Skills from the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program

First and foremost you should understand one thing; an MPA is for the nonprofit sector, not private. If you are interested in the private field go for an MBA. The MPA Program at Anna Maria College has helped me to see firsthand the need for policies and laws that will change so our environment, households, jobs, resources, economy and the community as a whole are not treated negatively.

Consider this:

  • The Master of Public Administration (MPA) helps you capitalize on this demand by preparing you for a long-term career in nonprofits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), or government agencies.
  • Nonprofit employment growth is up but succession plans are lacking, meaning there are fewer leaders than needed to maintain organizations that are losing baby boomers or previous leaders that knew “the way things were done.”
  • Management positions require a strong foundation in Human Resources, budget, leadership, communications, and knowing how to swivel quickly when necessary.
  • It is based on Public policy as the key. If you want to change things here is a position to do it in.

An MPA is a Safety Net providing you a Skill Set:

Think about an MPA as a way to have a safety net before doing the real thing, because that is how Anna Maria’s MPA Program is set up. As a student, I balance managerial and finance knowledge with coursework that targets public policy issues. Yes, I could learn this in the field, but at what cost?

Personally, I have completed the first half of my MPA coursework and constantly opened doors to interact with the Director of Public Works, the Assistant Directors, and several other sections of our local government.

Emphasis on transferable skills:

  • How to construct a budget,
  • How to conduct statistical analyses that are actually useful,
  • How to understand program evaluations and policy analyses,
  • How to manage and lead organizations,
  • How to become a better leader,
  • How to create a sustainable strategic plan for the community,
  • How to be diplomatic in almost every situation, and
  • How to negotiate rather than argue a point.

I work for a City government in North Carolina. Over the past few years the community has grown and with it, the expenses to maintain it. As part of the MPA program, I was able to develop an understanding of the strategic plan and what it takes to maintain it. The budget is balanced to maintain a level of operations for the strategic plan that will support the community. It is apparent the economy of the City is growing at an explosive rate, being able to conduct statistical analyses is actually useful in determining the amount of money that will be needed to fund this growth and the project undertaken by the City. The MPA program has allowed me to work with the Director of Public works to create the new Standard Operating Procedures for the City (SOP) and to adapt our training program to improve the training for our employees on a mass scale across public works.

On top of the strategic plan and the budget there are always policies. Policies control everything and they create, manage, and lead the organization in a progressive direction. With this, the ability to lead is imperative, you must be diplomatic rather than argumentative, and be able to understand and negotiate for the needs of the organization and the community. You are essentially leading the path or as the classes have done, creating the opportunity to assist in leading the path towards improvements for the community and the organization that you work for. The advice I can give here is, the more you know the more you can do and the more your organization will ask of you.

About the Author

Maie Armstrong is a Civil Engineer and Public Works Employee from North Carolina. Maie has worked in engineering for over 10 years and she is very keen on designing, developing, consulting, reviewing, and speaking about high quality public service and environmental guidelines while familiarizing herself with the financial and managerial issues involved in Public Administration. Her experience spans across several states and two countries.