Professional Work Experience (PWE)

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Current UNC MPA student Jackson Dille dives strengthens fiscal health for the Town of Apex

Written by UNC MPA

When friends ask me why I got into urban planning, my response normally includes a love for cities, a desire to tackle pressing issues through land use policy, and an attempt to avoid having to do too much math. So, what am I doing as an analyst in a town budget office? This is a question that I myself would have likely been stumped by just a few months ago.


After graduating with a bachelor’s in urban planning, I decided to pursue a dual master’s degree in urban planning and public administration. Working in a municipality and working on land use policy both involve coordination with many different entities. However, these entities too often get siloed in their own spheres without fully understanding the work of those they are coordinating with. As an effort to broaden my understanding of the work of different municipal departments and the financial decisions underpinning this work, I decided to pursue a Professional Work Experience in a budget office. When the town of Apex offered me a good position early in the PWE selection process, I knew it was exactly what I wanted for this stage of my professional development.


So far, my time in Apex’s budget office has been everything I hoped it would be. I began working in Apex in March, right as the budget for the next fiscal year was being drafted. Some unexpected absences in the office meant that I was quickly diving into various spreadsheets to track itemized spending for the fiscal year and highlight significant expenses for council reports. I’ve also been designated as the budget analyst for Apex’s Finance and Communications departments. These experiences have sharpened my Excel skills and emphasized the centrality of communication in budget work.
Apex’s budget office is a welcoming and supportive work environment. My coworkers here are happy to answer questions and support me and fellow UNC MPA intern Chris Bouzane in having a productive, hands-on Professional Work Experience. As I become more comfortable in this role and the proposed budget gets adopted, I hope to initiate a project that will combine my interests by exploring the impacts different land use patterns might have on Apex’s fiscal health. I am excited for the rest of the summer and hope I can take full advantage of it, as it is already passing by quickly!

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