Eric, Alex, Luisa, and Chaz with Professor Stenberg and Professor Nelson.
A few weeks ago, four chapter members attended the 101st ICMA Annual Conference in Seattle. Read about their experiences below!
Question 1: What was your favorite conference session/event?
ALEX: My favorite session was the Mastering the Fundamentals: Citizen Engagement session. Very likeable presenters provided examples of engagement practices used in Bayside, MI. Best of all, the information presented can be easily implemented by local governments looking to use social media to inform and engage citizens.
CHAZ: The best session I attended was the discussion highlighting the underrepresentation of women in chief administrator roles. This session featured recent UNC MPA alum Sarah Hazel (’14) as a panelist and engaged the audience in interactive exercises, discussion, and reflection on how to make local government leadership more representative of communities.
ERIC: The National Forum for Black Public Administrators Breakfast was my favorite conference event. I was able to glean knowledge about the pressures I have faced and will face as a minority manager, administrator, and leader.
LUISA: My favorite session was a workshop on how to prepare for an interview. I learned five key lessons:
- Negotiate your salary when offered the job. This is going to be the largest salary increase over your career.
- When asking for a salary increase, don’t use words such as “I feel, I just, or I believe.” Instead, reference specific projects or talk about how your experiences have benefitted the workplace.
- In your resume, change your job description into accomplishments.
- When interviewing, be energetic, smile, and shake hands!
- Always have questions for the employer at the end. My favorite example was “what goals would you like me to accomplish in the first year?” Frame your questions, as if you are already working for them.
Question 2: Who was the most interesting person you spoke to during the conference?
ALEX: While I charged my phone, I struck up a conversation with the City Manager of Bangor, ME. Not only did we talk about the planning process she led to prepare for the arrival of Ebola patients – Bangor was the place were Ebola patients arrived before continuing on to Atlanta, GA or Omaha, NE hospitals – but also about the work involved in running an international airport. She also gave me great career advice.
CHAZ: The most interesting person I met at the conference was Dr. Huiyao Wang (Founder and President of the Center for China and Globalization; Counselor to China’s State Council in Beijing). Huiyao presented at the session titled New Challenges that Cities are Facing in China. It was interesting to learn about issues facing governments abroad – including employee retention and recruitment of recent graduates – and the commonalities these organizations share with public sector organizations in the United States.
ERIC: The most interesting conversation I had the entire conference was with two city managers – one from Oregon, and the other from Wisconsin. We discussed how different the cultures of our cities are, and how, regardless of where you are, the same core leadership skills will make you successful.
LUISA: It is too hard to pick one interesting person – there were too many. I’ll just say that I gained the most by participating in the speed coaching session. During speed coaching, I listened to interesting stories, received a couple of tips on what to do after graduate school, and got advice from local government professionals working in various parts of the country, ranging from California, Colorado, to North Carolina.
Question 3: What was your favorite non-conference related activity you did?
ALEX: My favorite non-conference related activity was going up the Space Needle. The weather was perfect so I had a great view of Mount Rainier as well as the city’s downtown. I also had the opportunity to visit the Chihuly Glass Garden. The sculptures were beautiful!
CHAZ: The location of the Conference (downtown Seattle!) allowed me to explore much of the city. Outside of formal conference events, I enjoyed connecting with like-minded professionals, reconnecting with program alumni, and enjoying the Seattle weather and coffee.
ERIC: My favorite non-conference activity was simply walking around the city. Seattle’s downtown is beautiful and clean. I was a little astonished at how busy, yet peaceful the city was.
LUISA: My favorite experience was a harbor cruise of Seattle. I got a chance to see Seattle’s beautiful skyline from the water, Mount Rainier’s silhouette, and even a group of sea lions relaxing on a dock.
Question 4: What was the most surprising thing about your trip/the conference?
ALEX: In addition to being surprised by the great weather, I was surprised to see how dog-friendly many of the businesses are in Seattle. I was genuinely shocked to see dogs inside stores like J. Crew and H&M. I was also surprised by the size of the Gum Wall – it’s more like a Gum Alley.
CHAZ: I don’t think I realized just how large the Conference would end up being. ICMA boasts a large number of actively participating members who both learn from and contribute to the field on a consistent basis.
ERIC: The weather was the most surprising part of the trip. Seattle is known for rain. Thankfully it didn’t rain while I was there, and I was able to explore everything the city had to offer.
LUISA: The beautiful weather! I got to walk outside in sunny 65-degree weather. Also, all of the food I ate was delicious, particularly the mouthwatering desserts.
That wraps up our time in Seattle! See ya next year in Kansas City!