Student-Practitioner Collaboration: Creating Value Both Ways

As a part of my first-year student curriculum, I am involved in a team project with a local grant-making organization. Our team, comprised entirely of students from my MPA program, has been conducting research for this organization on promising practices in grant monitoring and evaluation; this involves both review of academic literature and performing phone interviews with grant-making organizations around the country. The project has been an invaluable learning experience for us, and is creating a product that the organization would likely not otherwise have the time or staff resources to create. While we are reimbursed for our expenses, we are not paid for our work; costs have been minimal and the value created great.

I do not know the situation in other areas, but my MPA program has a formalized system where government and nonprofit organizations submit project proposals to staff, who then present students with a list for selection. I performed similar, smaller-scale projects as an undergraduate through a service-learning program. These projects gave me interesting experiences like creating a twenty-year organization history and working to boost a marketing campaign, while involving minimal commitment of time from practitioners.

I would encourage practitioners to take the time to look for opportunities like this. As I stated above, there have been minimal costs associated with our project, and the result is valuable on both ends. Practitioners are presented with a product they might greatly need or want, but do not have the time or staff to create.  Students are able to learn and gain real-world experience that is valuable for both shaping career interests and boosting marketability during the job search.

Katie O’Connor Sirakos
MPA, 2011


2 thoughts on “Student-Practitioner Collaboration: Creating Value Both Ways

  1. Mr. Master,

    Thank you for your comment! We appreciate your offer to feature our work in The Public Manager and would consider it an honor, but feel the need to decline at this time. When we secured interviews with the grant-making organizations featured in our research, we agreed to certain terms and conditions that did not include publication of the information they provided. In addition, our contract with the client we are working for does not specify any sort of publishing opportunities for us. Thank you again for your offer, and I hope that you understand our need to pass on it right now.



  2. Katie, I would be very interested in publishing an article on your best practices in grant making in The Public Manager ( – either in an upcoming quarterly issue or on our Web site.


    Warren Master
    President & Editor in Chief
    The Public Manager


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