Janay Greene is a MPP alumni who now works at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights as the Campaigns and Programs Assistant for the Campaigns and Programs Department. In this article, Janay reflects on her time in the MPP program and describes her work today.
Please describe your new position. What does your day-to day look like?
I am the new Campaigns and Programs Assistant in the Campaigns and Programs Department (CPD) at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights (aka The Leadership Conference). I started in this new role on Monday August 15th, 2022. One word I would use to describe my new position is administrative. Some of my administrative tasks include taking notes at meetings, scheduling meetings for my supervisor, managing my supervisor's calendar, etc. More recently I've also been working with one of my managers to help onboard a new person to our department and organization.
Another word I would use to describe my new role is complex. You may have noticed that I mentioned I have a supervisor and made mention of work I do with one of my managers. That's because in my new role I have four people who manage my work. One of the people who manager my work is my supervisor who is the Interim Executive Vice President (EVP) of CPD - she is the head of the department. In addition to my supervisor the work I do for CPD is also managed by the Managing Director of CPD. In addition to working for the CPD department as a whole I also work within two of CPD's issue-based programs. One is the Human Rights program and the other is the Media and Technology program. The Senior Program Directors of those programs also manage my work.
What does my day to day look like? There really isn't a clear answer to that question because I take things day by day and everyday looks different. That doesn't mean there's no consistency, but my workflow does fluctuate. I may have a to-do list of things I want to accomplish but depending on what comes up throughout the day, my to-do list could get put on hold. My main strategy to get things done is to plan what I can do around meetings which some days means I'm able to get less done - and that's okay. I can only do what I can and do and I will continue to do my best to improve my strategy periodically.
How do you feel like the MPP program helps you in your new role?
One of the things that attracted me to the MPP program was the idea that being in that program would help me become an agent for social change. What does that mean? What does that look like? More importantly, what does that mean, what does that look like, and what can that look like for me in the role I'm in now? Well, I'll tell you one thing. When I saw the position that I'm in now on LinkedIn I thought it was a good opportunity. It's not my dream job, I don't even know exactly what that is right now. But I saw this position as an opportunity to learn, grow, and be a part of an organization that I felt was aligned with my values. And my main hope/expectation was and is for me to see where this position can take me.
One sentence that stuck out to me from the Campaigns and Programs Assistant job description was this: "The individual will have an opportunity to help build and monitor administrative infrastructure that is critical to the success of the organization's campaigns and programs and serve as the executive assistant for the EVP of the department." Building and monitoring administrative infrastructure - I didn't know what that meant when I read it, but it stuck out to me because it sounded important, and it sounded like something I needed to know how to do throughout my career. Fast forward to today, when I'm about three months into my job and I'm learning what building and monitoring administrative infrastructure can look like. It can look like building out resources that can be useful for people in my department and organization to review. It can look like creating and monitoring processes that effectively track the storage of information. It can look like collaborating with my colleagues so that these processes are consistent across the organization, etc. A lot of this learning is taking place not because of what people are telling me on the front end but because of what I'm noticing, what I'm experiencing, and what I'm inquiring about.
So, to answer the question, 'How do I feel like the MPP program helps me in my new role?' I'd say it helps me in my new role because being in that program helped me realize I can be an agent for social change because I am one. My observations, my experiences, and my questions are valuable and are necessary to making change happen. To see, to experience, and to question things that take place and then to act in ways that make a meaningful and positive difference - building resources, creating and monitoring processes, collaboration/teamwork, devising strategies, etc. That's what being an agent for social change is. I'm living that right now. In a way that I honestly didn't anticipate. But I'm thankful that I get to experience this reality at this stage of my career and life.
How did you balance your schoolwork with your job responsibilities?
My last semester in the MPP program was when I really had to figure out how to balance my schoolwork and my job responsibilities because in addition to course work, I had an internship, and I had a work study job. Mind you that was my first internship and my first work study job. Prioritization was key when it came to balancing my responsibilities. Prioritization for me didn't look like ordering things by importance because everything I was doing was important and required me to put my best foot forward. It was important for me to do well in school; it was important to for me to do well in my internship especially since I used it to complete the internship requirement for the MPP program; and it was important for me to be present and do well in my work study job because it meant something to me to support the students I was tutoring/mentoring and quite frankly I needed the money I was getting from the job. So, prioritization for me meant prioritizing myself by taking care of myself in general, getting rest, and setting boundaries both personally and professionally where I felt they were necessary. Prioritization also meant having the determination and motivation to get things done, and being honest and communicating where I needed help. Prioritization meant focusing on one thing at a time so I wouldn't get overwhelmed. When it comes to balancing and prioritizing, I don't think there's necessarily a right way to do it. You have to do what works best for you. And figuring out what works best for you could take you the whole semester. You may not feel like you got the hang of things until you're done. That's life. Things can be hectic. But as long as you take things day by day, you focus on one thing at a time, and you try your best, you're going to make it.
What advice do you have for current MPP students?
This is specifically for the +1 students and students who are coming into the MPP program from other schools fresh out of getting their bachelor's degree. But I'm sure all the MPP students may find this advice useful. My advice is to live. For me, I think for a long time I was so focused on school and being a good student that I wasn't paying other things the attention they needed. I was in school from the ages of 4-22. That's a long time, almost 20 years of school. Somewhere in that time frame school was my main responsibility. But at a certain point I should've got more serious about my finances and being independent. In my opinion I should've started making that transition between the ages of 14 and 16 (roughly 10 years before I actually did). That's the period when you can start to work (age 14) and start the process to getting a license (age 16). Having an education is important to an individual's progress but so are other things. I'm in debt right now from being in school so a good chunk of my income is going towards paying that off. But if I had planned better/differently I would be debt free right now. So, when I say live, I'm not talking about having a good time. Do that too! But what I'm talking about is making sure you set your life up in a way that you are always stable, you are always healthy (in all the ways you need to be healthy), you always have sustenance, and you are always financially free. That's how you live! That's what I'm talking about! You can't make a difference in someone else's life if you don't take care of yourself. So, make sure you take care of yourself, and love yourself well in all the ways you need to. Then you can make more of a difference for somebody else. The MPP program is a part of how you make a difference. A part. Remember that.