Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program not only provides students with the skills they’ll need to perform successfully in policy analysis, program management, and policy advocacy careers—the program is also dedicated to helping students get those jobs in the first place.
To that end, last week MSU MPP students participated in a career workshop titled “Preparing for the Job Market.” The workshop was led by Erika Rosebrook, a third-year Ph.D. student in MSU’s Political Science department who studied Public Administration at Harvard and worked for many years for the Kent and Ottawa County governments and for the State of Michigan.
Rosebrook talked about “what employers are looking for,” tips on writing resumes and cover letters, how to network, how to prepare an “elevator pitch,” and key things to keep in mind when interviewing for a job.
Some key messages:
- “Be true to yourself.” Rosebrook encouraged students to apply for jobs they were truly interested in; in the long run, applying for a job that you suspect from the outset will not be a good fit will not be good for you or your employer, Rosebrook said.
- Tell employers how you think you can help them—not why this job is a great fit for you. “Your job is to communicate, verbally and in your written documents, that you can deliver exactly what they need,” Rosebrook said.
- If employers ask about your weaknesses, be real. “Don’t say ‘my weakness is that I’m such a perfectionist,’” said Rosebrook. “Give examples of how you’re working to improve and how you structure your work to ensure your weaknesses don’t become problems or negatively affect your work.”
One on one help
Prior to the workshop, Rosebrook reviewed and provided personal feedback on the resumes of each of the second-year students; MSU Political Science Internship Coordinator Chuck Matzke did the same for first-years.
Matzke also helps first-year MPP students connect with organizations where they can fulfill their internship requirement, and helps second-years connect with potential employers.