As part of my role on the Student Relations Committee of the Humphrey School Alumni Board, I helped organize the Career Exploration Trip: Twin Cities again this year. This is my second time being involved with this trip (last year we won an award!). This year, instead of categorizing the panels by sector like we did last year (government, non-profit, private), we decided to use topics: housing, communications, and society. We also decided that committee members would moderate the panels; I moderated the society panel. Our goals for the trip are for current students to hear from alumni about their career path from graduation to their current job, for students to network with alums and each other, and for alumni to maintain a connection to the school by participating in an event. I think it’s also a fun opportunity for alums to get to know each other and reflect on their Humphrey School experience.

The whole day was a fun trip for me. The alumni that participated all did really different jobs but there were some great kernels of wisdom that emerged. I think everyone had a fun time getting together to talk about their path from the Humphrey School to what they’re doing now. After the society panel, since we were at Met Council, several other Humphrey alums who work there came for a meet and greet to chat with students. I would love to see this happen again because a day of three consecutive panels gets to be monotonous and I think the students really enjoyed the opportunity to get up, mill around, and chat one-on-one or in small groups with alumni in a more informal setting. Since each alum introduced themselves briefly, students could target individual people they wanted to meet.

We ended the day with a reception put together by the Alumni Relations Committee of the Alumni Board, where we could relax, eat some delicious food, and continue networking over drinks.

Here’s the full panelist line-up:

Housing, Community Development, & Sustainable Cities

  • Andriana Abariotes, Executive Director Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corp. (MA ’95)
  • Paul Fate, Principal PFate and Associates (M-Plan ’89)
  • Ryan Peterson, Development Director, Northside Achievement Zone (MPA ’14)
  • David White, Public Funding, Grants, and Government Relations, Habitat for Humanity (MURP ‘13)

Housing Panel

Housing Panel

Getting the Word Out: Communications, Public Affairs and Government Relations

  • Matt Swenson, Press Secretary & Senior Communications Advisor for Governor Mark Dayton (MPP ’09)
  • Scott Beutel, Legislative & Public Affairs Liaison at MN Department of Human Rights (MPP ’11)
  • Kristin Beckmann, Deputy Mayor of the City of St. Paul (MPA ’00)
  • Abou Amara. R, Advisor to the Minority Leader, Minnesota House of Representatives (MPP ‘12)

Communications Panel

Communications Panel

Policy in Society: Diverse ways Humphrey grads make an impact

  • Bill Bushey, Lead Organizer at Open Twin Cities and Software Engineer at GovDelivery (MS-STEP ’11)
  • Ambreasha Frazier, Director of Student & Recent Alumni Relations at University of Minnesota Alumni Association (MS-STEP ‘12)
  • Zachary Hylton, Planning and Evaluation Analyst at Ramsey County Human Services (MDP ’14)

Society Panel

Society Panel, photo by Madeline Welter

Meet and greet with Met Council Humphrey Alumni

  • Cole Hiniker, Planning Analyst, Metropolitan Transportation Services (MURP ‘09)
  • Raya Esmaeili, Planner (MURP ‘11)
  • Akua Asare, Program Evaluation and Audit (MPP ‘15)
  • Angela Torres, Senior Planner (MURP ‘09)
  • Steve Peterson, Planning Analyst, Metropolitan Transportation Services (MURP ‘07)

Meet and Greet

Meet and Greet, photo by Madeline Welter

Here are some of the take-aways that I pulled out from the day.

  • Commit to learning, and seek out learning opportunities. These could be through your job or other professional opportunities, formal class experiences, or they can be seeking out ways to learn new skills and information on your own. There are tons of resources out there (Meetups, online classes, tutorials, etc.).

  • Think critically. Step away periodically to both recharge and to think big picture about where you are going and whether you are on the path to that.

  • Learn the business side and what’s important to decision makers- good stewardship of scarce resources is increasingly important. It’s important to really understand the system in which you work, whether that’s your sector, field, organization, market, whatever. Not only the “official” way that things work, but also the politics, how decisions get made and by whom, what individual and organizational roles are within the system.You need to understand power dynamics, institutional structure, organizational culture, and human interaction. This will help you not only be more effective but avoid looking foolish and losing credibility.

  • Good mentors are important: seek out those who can teach you things. Whether it’s a formal or informal mentor relationship or whether you even call it “being mentored”. This could be as simple as seeking a specific skill from a person you know has that skill, or asking for a meeting that’s similar to an informational interview with someone who has knowledge you are interested to learn. Talk to people about their career paths.

  • Network! No but really, when you get opportunities, take them. Content and experience are important, but so are relationships. Be able to deliver a value-specific, tangible contribution using your skill set, knowledge, and experience. Then, have a couple great projects you’ve done that you can talk about clearly and concisely where you have been able to do this.

Thanks to everyone involved: the panelists, alums at the meet and greet, both the Student and Alumni Relations Committees of the Alumni Board (particularly Ambreasha Fraizer for stepping in as a panelist due to a last-minute cancellation), Habitat for Humanity, TPT, and Met Council for graciously hosting us, Humphrey School staff Courtney Barrette, Jen Guyer-Wood, Jane Vega, and Martha Krohn, and to the students, who made it through an entire day of panel discussions. What a great event!