First impressions are important because they always last, and the same goes for my entrance to the MPA program. Notwithstanding a brief visit last fall and interacting with career services over the summer, my first impression of the actual MPA program began just a few weeks ago when all the new Traditional MPA students met, many for the first time. It was orientation week, and we were finally starting the journey we had been planning and anticipating for several months.
As we all gathered in the large banquet hall set aside for the first day, I was nervous about the people I would soon meet. What was everyone going to be like? Where was I going to fit in? Quickly, the fear passed to excitement as I began introducing myself to my new classmates. I’ve always enjoyed meeting new people, and there was no shortage of interesting backgrounds to discuss. Various schools, different areas of the country, and multiple nationalities were represented in the newest cohort. One thing we all had in common was our ambition to succeed and the stuff to make it happen.
Most of orientation week was centered on career services and academic planning. Vinh Nguyen spent time speaking with us about the different career paths available to MPAs. The “industry, audit, or tax” question could be a dissertation on its own, but it was something that many of us were still struggling with as we approached our first day of class. We had the chance to meet our professors at a breakfast and then hear their perspective on the “industry, audit, or tax” question. Also thrown in the mix were several events where we had to make our first impression on potential future employers: an etiquette dinner, a networking reception, and a career fair were all on the bill for the first week. We even had a chance to socialize as a class at a pizza and bowling party thrown by the MPA Council.
Back to first impressions, though. The professors are clearly passionate about what they do, and it is evident that they are proud to be a part of the MPA program. I’m sure you are aware of how big of a difference it makes when a teacher is excited about what they are teaching, and these folks have it. The career services department is top notch from their support and preparation to facilitating interaction with future employers. I ended the week with a pleasant optimism about my job prospects. The students I will be learning alongside are an extraordinarily bright and diverse group of fun people. The connections I made that week are sure to last a lifetime. Hopefully I left a good first impression on a few people, too!