The New Year is here and a new semester is on the horizon for the ICMA student chapter members. I encourage all of my fellow ICMA members to acquire skills that you are not familiar with in the coming year. New skills bring energy, excitement, and fresh ideas to academic and professional endeavors. New skills show growth, ability to learn new information, and demonstrate the ability to adapt to changes in technology. I want to highlight a few experiences in 2014 where I learned some new, practical skills.
2014 ICMA Student Video Competition
The 2014 ICMA Student Video Competition was an exciting experience that forced me to learn the nuances of video production, video editing, and interviewing. I traveled up the North Carolina coast for a few days shooting a video for the Life, Well Run Campaign. I met total strangers who work in county government and now have quality connections in professional managment in Eastern North Carolina. I conducted video editing on the spot with equipment that I have never used before. Cell phones seem like the most popular way to shoot videos nowadays, so the old camcorder was a challenge. Video production is time consuming. The editing of the footage, the integration of sound, and making sure to apply the rule of 1/3rds correctly is a challenge but a great skill to learn and I would feel comfortable undertaking any video project now.
Web Development and Data Base Construction
I took the Information Technology and Public Administration course in 2014 instructed by Younhee Kim, Ph.D. at East Carolina University. I learned to evaluate, build, and edit websites using the HTML language. I was even hired to construct a webpage for a local business in Belhaven, North Carolina (www.riverforestmarina.com). I learned original database construction using Microsoft Access in class. I now have the ability to construct simple database projects which I use frequently at my current career with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.
Public Budget and Accounting
I was required to evaluate and interpret Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) for municipalities of various sizes in my Local Government Finance course taught by Olga Smirnova, Ph.D. at East Carolina University. I was challenged to learn and understand the Statement of Activities on these reports. I am now familiar with the CAFR, and came to realize that the CAFR is a vital source of information for citizens and public administrators. This skill is invaluable as it put into a practical perspective the theory and practice of local government budget and finance.
This year, challenge yourself with learning practical skills that you have no prior experience with. You can do this through your courses taught at your institution of higher learning, or by engaging a local municipality. Of course, ICMA has many great resources to help you improve all sorts of skills sets! Have a great 2015!
Henry E Boyd IV
President East Carolina University Student ICMA Chapter
MPA Candidate 2015