Recently, Frank Benest, ICMA's senior advisor for Next Generation Initiatives, had the opportunity to serve as a "City/County Manager in Residence" at two universities where he introduced students to local government, and emerged recharged. These kinds of programs offer a great opportunity to instruct, reach into the future talent pool, and inspire another generation. But also demonstrate to school instructors and administrators that key resources are available to them to grow and add value to their programs.
The idea is relatively simple. During a one-week residency, the City/County Manager makes in-class presentations (faculty would identify classes and topics in advance). The Manager also meets one-on-one with students about their career plans and provides coaching, meets informally with faculty about their research interests or current issues in local governance, and participates in any other Career Advancement or school activities.
At the Goldman School of Public Policy, I conducted a workshop for a visiting delegation of HR Directors from China on the Talent Crisis facing local governments. I also presented a “Careers in Local Government” brown bag with Masters in Public Policy students. To complete my residency, I will be lecturing in two classes during the next semester on Public Policy and Public Budgeting.
University of La Verne
During my three days at ULV, I was scheduled for a full range of experiences. I made presentations on Preparing the Next Generation in a MPA class and Collaborative Leadership in a DPA seminar. I also provided a half-day workshop to all students in the DPA program on Leadership Development and Succession Planning. Interspersed with these formal activities, I provided one-to-one career coaching to six or seven students (some of whom have followed up with me for further career advice). Finally, I enjoyed a dinner with the PA faculty. My housing was provided by Phil Hawkey, Vice President of Administration at ULV and former City Manager of Pasadena.
Based on these experiences, for others interested in creating similar programs with local universities I recommend the following:
- Don’t wait for a university to contact you. Select one, two, or three participating universities and contact the university program representatives. (For California, visit www.cal-icma.org and click on Manager in Residence Program; ICMA will be working with other states to develop a broader network of contacts).
- Don’t be constrained by the suggestion of a “one-week” residency. You can do three days in a particular week or even split up the experiences over two or three weeks.
- To have an enriching experience, strive for a wide-ranging diversity of experiences, such as
- In-class presentations
- Informal discussions with students and faculty
- One-to-one career coaching with students
- Include in the residency one-to-one career coaching. Request that the university schedule these coaching sessions with interested students in advance of your visit and suggest that the students bring a resume, even if it is out of date. Students are highly appreciative of this personalized experience.
- In advance of your residency, request that the professor of each class identify a topic and the time allotted so you can prepare accordingly. Inquire as to the background and any job experiences of the students.
- To better prepare students for local government careers and to bolster their resumes, suggest that students get a free one-to-one coach through a state or regional Coaching Program (such as the Cal-ICMA Coaching Program; students can go to www.cal-icma.org and click on “Coaches Gallery” to select a coach). You can also recommend that students become a student member of their state manager's or assistant's association, or ICMA for only $25. Through attending state events and receiving related information on local government, they can better prepare themselves as well as put these affiliations of their resume.
- Direct students to career resources such as ICMA's Career Network including how to find internships, information about careers in local government, and how to enter and advance in their career.
- Ensure that someone in the university program will coordinate your schedule so you are efficient in your time and you have a diversity of experiences.
- Have fun and enjoy this new adventure!
I highly recommend that you contact one or more participating universities in your area and get re-charged! ICMA and your state association can assist you in finding a university, if no formal program exists yet in your area.