Earl Park’s interest in public service began in his hometown of Fairfax, Virginia, with a high school internship with the county’s library system. There, he had an opportunity to delve into various administrative functions, which included producing a training video for future library volunteers, recording podcasts for book reviews, and assisting the library foundation. It was a formative experience in Park’s journey toward a public service career.
“[The] internship gave me a glimpse into public service at a young age,” Park said. “Working with colleagues who are dedicated in their mission to serve the public inspired me to do my best every day.”
Building a Career in Public Service
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in government from the University of Virginia, where he was exposed to more aspects of public service. During his senior year, Park worked at the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, producing publications about the organization’s programs and events and learning about nonprofit management. Although he considered graduate school immediately after completing his undergraduate degree, a job opportunity arose with the federal government.
Currently, he serves as the policy team supervisor for a division of the federal government. He oversees a team of nine employees responsible for the coordination, review, approval, publication, and promulgation of all internal policy for the agency—including human resources. From administrative matters like employee leave and benefits to operational functions such as interagency coordination, Park and his team expertly review, analyze, and recommend improvements to policies that impact tens of thousands of employees every day.
UNC MPA: The Right Fit for Park’s Career
After seeing his father complete a master’s degree, Park began to consider earning one himself. He explored a few degree programs and focused on a public administration degree as the best fit with his federal service. As he researched graduate schools, UNC’s MPA program consistently came up as a top-ranked program that provided flexibility.
Park was initially hesitant about completing a program online, but after visiting a class, he knew the online UNC MPA program was the right choice. He said he was impressed with the quality of the education he observed in class discussions.
“Immediately, I took interest in the course and the discussion, which had diverse viewpoints. The discussion was enriched with examples from varied work experiences that were applicable to what I did,” he said. “I gathered from my visit that my future classmates were not going to be just from one area or working one occupation. Instead, I worked with classmates from all across the country and with various backgrounds—which was important to me.”
“My future classmates were not going to be just from one area or working one occupation. Instead, I worked with classmates from all across the country and with various backgrounds—which was important to me.”
Since enrolling in the program, Park has gained the knowledge and skill sets needed to help him grow as a leader in his field.
“Participating in the MPA program has been a wonderful complement to my career. Throughout my time in the program, there were moments where the coursework directly correlated with what I was doing at work,” he said. “When I was participating in a conference at work, one of the segments discussed a topic that I had just discussed in class the prior week. The tie-in between the program and the supervisor development program at work was a great benefit for my professional development.”