Caroline Poole graduated from Michigan State University with a Professional Writing degree in 2017. Since then, she has been applying her skills in communication, rhetorical analysis, and project management in the nonprofit sector.
Currently, Caroline is living in Chicago and working on an Americorps program called Public Allies, through which she mentors a group of Chicago Public School eighth graders. She is also completing a nonprofit apprenticeship with an organization called One Million Degrees (OMD), which, says Caroline, “empowers community college students to succeed in school, in work, and in life.” OMD provides financial support to students through scholarships and stipends and hosts professional development sessions for students, where they learn skills essential to a successful career, such as networking and public speaking. The organization also offers free one-on-one tutoring for students.
Caroline is the Program Support Coordinator at OMD, and she says that the majority of her time in that role is spent planning and assisting in the execution of the organization’s professional development events. She has also worked to establish partnerships with other organizations in Chicago and is currently working on a referral program, which will allow students to receive free professional attire from the nonprofit organization Cara.
In addition to working for OMD, Caroline was recently accepted into Northwestern University’s Master’s in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program, which she will begin this fall. The program first grabbed her attention because of its focus on the relationship between policy and administration.
“During my Americorps year, I have become passionate about the work of nonprofits and have seen the positive changes they create, not just at the ground level but also at administrative levels,” she says. “The focus of many nonprofits is to address a present issue, whether it’s regarding homelessness, sustainability, or social justice, and these nonprofits are also bringing to light the flaws in policies that are allowing for these issues to arise.” According to Caroline, policy is a fundamental part of nonprofit work, but many master’s programs focus on either policy or administration. Northwestern’s program is unique, she says. “It will allow me to learn about both areas and analyze how they intersect, along with the different ways to make this intersection constructive for the issues facing communities.”
Caroline says that since graduation, her PW degree has proved very useful in her career. “At OMD I have to take on different roles, and a diverse skill set is required,” she says. “The PW program prepared me to be a strong communicator in the workplace, and I see the skills I learned in the classroom come out in my job every day. From understanding audience to developing project plans, PW shaped me into a critical problem solver for the diverse community that I serve. Even though I don’t have ‘writer’ or ‘editor’ in my title, I am a strong communicator and use [PW] skills in all aspects of my work.”
Caroline also sees connections between Northwestern’s MPPA program and MSU’s Professional Writing major. “Both programs require analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to write effectively,” she says. Both also emphasize the ability to analyze and craft successful rhetoric related to different communities, cultures, and values. “Being able to find problems and create plans to solve them will be a large component of the coursework that I will be doing throughout the MPPA program,” she notes, “and that’s something I already have experience in thanks to PW.”
Written by Martha Spall