Colloquium: Opportunity on a Silver Platter

Colloquium: Opportunity on a Silver Platter-image

Jamila Daniel is a first-year CIPA student concentrating in international development studies. Prior to CIPA she majored in cultural anthropology at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. She is an alumna of Douglass Residential College and the Institute of Women’s Leadership in affiliation with Rutgers. After CIPA, she intends to conduct ethnographic research and specialize in project management and evaluation for development programs globally.

Colloquium is a mandatory course that all CIPA students participate in. Usually, I am not happy about anything mandatory which is why I decided to enroll in such a flexible MPA program, but colloquium is something I likely would have chosen regardless. Career Services Coordinator Millie Reed, Engaged Learning Associate Kayla Malone, and CIPA Executive Director Tom O’Toole have utilized their expertise and experience to design a course that would aid our class in landing jobs and internships that we are passionate about. Highlighting the importance of networking, the course includes alumni panels and corresponding roundtables with these alumni panelists, allowing students to connect more personally with them and to reach out later for informational interviews.  

Colloquium Panel

10.25.18 Colloquium Panel event with Olinda Hassan, MPA ’14, Yanfei Chen, MPA ’12, and Jamie Frank, MPA ’13. 

The opportunity to meet and sit down with professionals who were once in our very position has been invaluable for me. One of my internship prospects have come from these roundtables and I have made connections with alumni who are interested in how my career is progressing and how I take advantage of the MPA program. They offer advice and might even pass along a résumé for me. Because of the great connections offered, the colloquium course teaches us how to then communicate with alumni and professionals we might one day want to work with. The course provides us with tips for what to do at a networking event, what to do once we have someone on the phone, and once we have the OK to reach out via email.

For some, this may not sound too impressive. Many CIPA students have been working as professionals for a long time and already have a deep understanding of how to network and utilize their connections for lasting friendships and job opportunities, but I came to CIPA exactly four months after graduating undergraduate. Some of the younger students and I don’t have the same level of work experience as others so the exposure to professional culture and practice has been the best thing colloquium has provided. I am making connections that I would not have access to if not for CIPA and I am learning how to leverage my courses and skills to be represented as a competitive candidate for the fields and positions in my area of interest. That’s what this first semester of colloquium has been all about. Its CIPA saying, “take courses in your area of interest, gain all those hard and soft skills that will be beneficial to your goals, but also take this course. Make sure your hard work can be easily relayed to employers and practice getting yourself out there.”

One additional and very important aspect of colloquium is that its benefits do not stop in the classroom. I have found all three instructors to be extremely helpful in providing advice outside of colloquium. Dr. O’Toole is incredibly responsive and has supported me in my quest for internships, Millie Reed has met with me to practice interviewing and perfect my resume, and Kayla Malone has informed me of roundtable events that might interest me and has encouraged my attendance. CIPA faculty and staff are really there to help us inside and outside of courses but colloquium is a great opportunity to have a semester-long crash course in professional competitiveness.

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