My Final Assignment as a Graduate Student

I do believe this is the very last thing I have to do to complete all three of my graduate degrees. I want to have something especially insightful, but the reality is that much like graduate school started four years ago, I am still burning the midnight oil and insight cuts into sleep time. That said, this last week, including my final presentation to BEST this early morning is a real testament to the work I’ve done through these graduate programs.

Last week was my first full week as a post-graduate Hatfield Fellow working at Oregon Housing and Community Services, where I am a special projects assistant splitting my time between strategic planning, organizational development, and performance measurement on one hand, and policy analysis and data visualization on the other. Every single day so far I have found myself looking through the technicolor lens provided by my conflict resolution, public administration, and nonprofit management perspectives—applying this lesson and that to new situations.

In addition to my Hatfield work, this weekend I got to facilitate an Oregon Humanities dialogue on the values associated with Oregon public lands and forestry. I followed up the weekend with a marathon of meetings and presentations, including chairing the McKenzie River Trust Development Committee, finalizing training plans for my other internship with the City of Eugene, and presenting my recommendations to the BEST Board of Directors. At each of these meetings, I was essentially offered a follow-up job lead using this combination of group process, policy, and nonprofit skills to use. With eight months to go on my post-graduate fellowship, I basically turned them all down, but it is nice to know that it was all very likely worth it. Even better to know that such a diverse group of people see me as a professional that can offer value to their own work.

This is technically a post for my BEST internship, so specifically to that project, my presentation went great today. Although I talked about future value in my asset post, I actually got to see some instantaneous results as Board members volunteered left and right to create and lead new committees on my recommendation. I also got to take advantage of a teachable moment, by facilitating another part of the agenda in a way specifically designed to bring voices into the room. Afterwards, the Chair who has been rightly accused of stifling open discussion, came up to me and thanked me for so graciously modeling a new way for him to do his job.  Finally, as I am tasked at my new job this week with sorting through slide decks in preparation for an all-staff report out, I am reminded of the value of keeping it simple and not being afraid of a little color. Maybe in eight months time I can help to shift not only organizational culture in my new job, but also the culture of powerpoint!

And, I guess, that’s a wrap. A bittersweet good night.

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