UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa .– For professionals working in local, state, or federal government, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed new challenges in maintaining public and government operations while ensuring the safety of employees and essential residents .
Jennifer Roper Gulsrud and Tyler Rost, recent graduates of Master of Public Administration (MPA) Program via Penn State World Campus, said obtaining an MPA not only trained them for careers in the public sector, but also prepared them for these new challenges related to COVID-19.
Roper Gulsrud said that after working in the private and public sectors of finance, she realized that she preferred to work for the government, which motivated her to get an MPA.
She enrolled at Penn State World Campus in 2017 and was quickly able to leverage her continuing education to land her current role as Business and Finance Manager for the King County, Washington Metro System.
“The MPA program gave me the confidence to apply for this position while I was still in the process of graduating,” said Roper Gulsrud, who graduated in fall 2019. “It’s was exciting to use my studies to get a job that I really wanted and enjoy. . ”
As a commercial and financial officer, Roper Gulsrud creates, monitors and reports on the bus system budget and supports various superintendents in the organization. When COVID-19 began to affect the greater Seattle area in late February, Roper Gulsrud said she was able to fall back on her studies to determine how she would reallocate resources to mitigate the financial effect of the pandemic on her. department.
“When the pandemic hit, I used different theories and examples to understand how to calculate the new variables created by COVID-19 and how they would impact the revenue and budget of the metro system,” said Roper Gulsrud.
Roper Gulsrud said the impact of the pandemic will affect the timing and budgeting of the metro system for years to come, but despite these new challenges, she feels well equipped to handle them.
“My AMP has been invaluable,” said Roper Gulsrud. “I really think I was well prepared for this because of my degree and brought these skills to my job.”
Courses in the online MPA program are taught by faculty at the School of Public Affairs at Penn State Harrisburg. The program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA).
The 36-credit program prepares students for leadership positions in public service careers and builds their professional skills to work successfully in government and nonprofit organizations. The program’s core courses include Organizational Behavior, Government Tax Decision Making, Public Organization and Management, Human Resources in the Public and Nonprofit Sector, Introduction to Policy Analysis, and research methods.
Students can also take elective courses in Homeland Security, Human Resources, Nonprofit Management, Policy Analysis and Evaluation, Public Budgeting and Financial Management, and Government and local and state administration.
Many MPA graduates work as administrators for government agencies, large public and private sector companies, and community organizations or in various other fields such as tribal politics, charities, criminal justice, and academia.
“We are proud of the accomplishments of our MPA students and alumni at all levels of government and in non-profit organizations, NGOs, business organizations and consulting firms,” said Bing Ran, responsible professor. of the MPA program at Penn. Harrisburg State.
“The MPA program well prepares our students for career advancements to higher positions with greater managerial responsibilities, and our courses are designed to facilitate students’ academic interests and professional goals.”
Spring 2020 graduate Tyler Rost said earning an MPA is necessary for advancing his career as an assistant administrator in a New Jersey municipality. Rost said he grew up as a Penn State fan and knew he needed to get his masters degree online, which made this decision to attend Penn State World Campus easy.
As a deputy administrator, Rost oversees the day-to-day operations of the city by communicating with those responsible for various departments, such as water and sewerage, construction, finance, etc., to ensure that each department is running. correctly.
“The program not only taught me useful theories, but prepared me to apply those theories to real-life situations,” Rost said. “It also taught me to be an effective communicator and leader, and it gave me the skills to meet the needs of residents while meeting new pandemic safety guidelines.”
Since many of the employees in the departments Rost oversees are essential to the running of the municipality, Rost said his team needed to quickly figure out how to keep critical government workers and city residents safe while carrying out the necessary work.
“The government’s work is noticeably slow, but in two weeks we’ve gone from full operation to shutting down the building,” Rost said. “We were slowly able to reopen because we learned how to safely deal with the pandemic while getting things done.”
Beyond how their degrees helped them through the pandemic, Rost and Roper Gulsrud said they were convinced that obtaining a master’s degree in public administration would prove beneficial in advancing their careers.
“The MPA program really helped me progress to my higher level management role, it took me to the next level,” said Roper Gulsrud. “I know I have the capacity to move up the ranks if I choose, and I think I will be a well-suited due to my degree from Penn State World Campus.”
Visit the Penn State World Campus website for more information on the masters in public administration.