I've mentioned it a few times before, but starting in September I'm going to be back in school! In a manner of speaking, at least. I've told lots of people about it in person, but I keep getting the "So...what exactly is this program?" question so I thought I would do a blog post to get it all out there. It's a really great program too, so maybe there are some other people who would be interested in it.
Okay - the short answer to the question is that I'm enrolled in the Diploma in Public Administration program at Western. It's a part of their Local Government program and operates a little differently. I'm enrolled as a city-sponsored employee, which means that I was accepted through my employer (The City of London) to be involved in the program. So instead of doing week-long intensive courses, I have two hours a week on campus in the evenings, and two hours a week at City Hall in the afternoons. It's only four courses plus a research project, so it will make for a busy and exciting year!
The question at this point seems to be - but what will you do with it? Well, this program is aimed at people who work in municipal government. There really isn't another program quite like it. After this, there is a Master of Public Administration Program, and the MPA program at Western is the only one in Canada. This is the education that people are looking for when it comes to upper-level municipal government positions. I've been noticing more and more how it's listed in the qualifications of mayors, police chiefs, chief administrative officers, any of those high rollers. So basically it's the program that is best suited to my educational background and experience. If I want to keep working in municipal government and get to some upper level stuff, this is what I need to do.
The plan right now is to do the DPA program this year, completing my research project in Summer 2016. That would put me on track to start the MPA program in Fall 2016. Doing the masters degree on a part-time basis while working full-time should take me about three years. The MPA program is structured to accommodate students who are working full-time, so it should work out okay. Basically I'm hoping to spend the next four years in schooling to put myself in a good position for advancement within the next five years.
It's a pretty big deal that I was accepted as a city-sponsored employee. This was my third time applying to the program, and I'm the only non-management employee who was accepted this year. There are only seven of us, so I'm really excited that I got in this time. The city also reimburses my tuition upon successful completion of the program, which is a definite bonus.
I'm a little intimidated by the whole process. Not only am I the only non-management member of the city-sponsored group, I also think I'm the youngest. Some of our courses will involved students in the MPA program, as well as other masters degree programs and even PhD students. It's been 10 years since I've been in university, so the idea of diving back in at such a high level is a little nerve wracking, especially since I've never taken a poli sci course before. There seem to be a lot of really great resources though. It's a very small program and the program coordinator seems really accessible and helpful, and apparently there's an amazing librarian who specializes in this area. Still, the idea of balancing work and school and Vivian and pop culture consumption over the next few years is more than a little daunting. This is why for now I'm distracting myself by just buying cute office supplies and finding the perfect laptop bag.