APSIA Welcomes New Public and International Service Advisors in the DMV

APSIA Welcomes New Public and International Service Advisors in the DMV

On Friday, September 22, 2023, APSIA welcomed eight community college and undergraduate advisors from seven institutions to the University of Maryland School of Public Policy (UMD SPP) for a Public and International Service Advisor (PISA) training workshop.

To begin, Dr. Nina Harris, UMD SPP Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs, welcomed everyone and talked about the School’s call to change the world through policy.

Then, APSIA Executive Director Carmen Iezzi Mezzera invited American University School of International Service alumnus Derrick Coley to discuss his professional journey.

Mr. Coley is now Executive Director of External Relations for the Maryland Higher Education​ Commission. He explained how his work with policymakers, universities, and non-profits let his career connect local issues to global ones. After sharing his own serendipitous entry into international affairs (by answering an ad in the newspaper), Mr. Coley said he hopes students will take a chance and try something new, even if it isn’t perfect. Successful professionals today need emotional intelligence, strong research and policy analysis skills, the ability to work well in teams, and practice building relationships, he said. Students can figure out what issues to work on by “looking for the web” of organizations around a global challenge. Then, they can learn how different parts of the web connect. Finally, they can identify where in that web they want to work and explore what skills are needed.

After the career panel, advisors heard from Taryn Faulkner, Associate Director for Graduate Admissions, and Mike Goodhart, Associate Director of Cohort Programs, at UMD SPP. Ms. Faulkner and Dr. Goodhart compared professional degree programs in international affairs, public affairs, public administration, law, business, and other fields. To choose, students should think about what they want professionally from the graduate school experience, counseled Ms. Faulkner. Dr. Goodhart said “our degrees are about changing the systems about how we treat each other and creating the structures that make daily life better.” They offer important context and build skills for a range of careers. Participants also discussed the many ways to pay for graduate school, as well as discussing dual degree and bachelors-masters programs.

After lunch, advisors closed out the day with a panel looking at how global phenomena link to local opportunities.

UMD SPP panelists Nancy Gallagher, Director of the Center for International and Security Studies, Jiehong Lou, Assistant Research Professor with the Center for Global Sustainability, and James Stillwell, Faculty Director of the Do Good Campus, talked about ways students can connect with global security, sustainability, and climate change, among other topics. Class assignments, student clubs, internships, and other activities offer ways to link international challenges with local action. To be successful, students need active listening to hear communities’ needs and share opportunities. They need empathy for themselves and others. They should conduct an appreciative inquiry to discover how their lived experiences offer important insights and skills to help their communities face global issues.

To close out the day, Ms. Mezzera shared more about the PISA Network and explained the access attendees now have to events and resources for themselves and their students. Learn more at pisanetwork.com.