Students get a peek at their futures with degrees in geography, urban affairs and public administration

Eleven Wright State alumni shared their experiences as part of a panel at the MPA, Urban Affairs and Geography Careers Event held Oct. 9 in the atrium of Millett Hall.

Wright State University students interested in geography, urban affairs and public administration as professions connected with grads in those majors who have carved out successful careers in government, business and nonprofits.

Eleven Wright State alumni shared their insights as part of a panel at the MPA, Urban Affairs and Geography Careers Event held Oct. 9 in the atrium of Millett Hall.

“It’s a special event because it features a combination of alumni from various majors placed together in a highly interactive forum,” said Wayne Stark, director of workforce development for the Center for Liberal Arts Student Success (CLASS) in the College of Liberal Arts. “Students and faculty alike can connect substantively with these outstanding alumni — asking questions, garnering sage advice, forging new relationships and learning of opportunities.”

The panelists told the audience that the joys of their jobs include the variety of their duties, getting to see the positive impact they have on the community, the ability to help people, providing protection and security for society, creating jobs, problem-solving, hiring interns, winning grants and working in teams.

They said challenges include dealing with red tape, finding funding, lack of resources, politics and sometimes coping with criticism from the public.

Career advice to the students from the panels included learn how to write and speak well; pursue a career that is enjoyable; look out for yourself; don’t fear the unknown; network with classmates and faculty; find healthy ways to deal with stress; be humble; help your co-workers succeed; fill gaps in the workplace to gain experience and knowledge; and create your own opportunities.

The panelists included Tony Alexander, CEO of Great Oak Funding; Fairborn City Manager Rob Anderson; Michele Conley of the Regional Transit Authority; Troy city planner Tim Davis; Shanel Fultz, with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base; Beavercreek City Manager Pete Landrum; William Lutz, executive director of The New Path, Inc.; Melissa McCarthy, with Sinclair Community College; Arliss Perry, with WSU/Odyssey Systems Consulting; Centerville city planner Andrew Rodney; and Michael Vanderburgh, executive director of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

“It’s not a typical career fair,” said Stark. “It’s about a focused event where our students can explore the possibilities for their majors and learn about the many different career paths available to them from those that have gone before them.”

The event, which was sponsored by CLASS and the School of Public and International Affairs, concluded with a networking session between the students and panelists.

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