Today’s blog post comes from first year MPA student Mark Wolfe.
When I first arrived at SPEA, I thought that my concentrations would be Nonprofit Management and International Development. After two months, however, I signed up for spring classes, with concentrations in Public Management and Policy Analysis. Despite the change in concentration interests, one thing has stayed constant—my interest in working internationally. As a result, I joined the International Public Affairs Association (IPAA) at SPEA, and my graduate education and student life is further enhanced outside of the classroom as a result
First, IPAA provides wonderful professional networking opportunities. Recently, IPAA hosted an International Pub Trivia Night that included SPEA alumni, faculty, and students that have lived and worked abroad. We gathered at a local bar and played an internationally-themed trivia game to test each other’s knowledge. Afterwards, participants networked with each other, learning about professional opportunities abroad, and allowing students to gather tips for living and working internationally. I look forward to similar networking opportunities through IPAA in the future.
Second, IPAA brings influential speakers to campus. On a recent Friday, I attended a lecture hosted by the IPAA featuring Tim Campbell, Chairman of the Board for the Urban Age Institute in San Rafael, CA. He spoke on the topic of city planning and how city leaders formally and informally learn from each other. I also learned about new innovations in city planning, like bus rapid transit. IPAA has also brought other speakers to IU, such as a SPEA alum who now works with the GAVI Alliance on immunization distribution and a different speaker who was the only American citizen to remain in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
Lastly, IPAA is a great conduit for other international activities across Indiana University’s Bloomington campus. As a highly diverse campus, Indiana University has many offices devoted to cross-cultural and international awareness, and the cultural interest seen on campus extends to the larger Bloomington community as well. These offices host events throughout the school year, and IPAA sends communications to its members about these enriching opportunities. Some examples of past and present events include: an international development roundtable discussion with professors from around the U.S., a visit to IU from the Polish Ambassador to the United States, and a China-U.S. relations forum that includes a speech by Madeline Albright, the former U.S. Secretary of State.
Even in my short time at SPEA, I have already benefited from IPAA’s activities, and it is only one of many student organizations within SPEA for graduate students. With a variety of options for students to pursue outside of the classroom, SPEA masters students have opportunities to continue their professional development and networking in organizations that mirror students interests. The student organizations are a great way to get involved in SPEA and meet other students interested in the same field.