This year's class of Urban Scholars will share their experiences here all summer long through blogs, photos and video.
2013 Minneapoils Urban Scholars
Hands on banking with Wells Fargo
I’ve always had a few questions on the nebulous idea of “credit”. I always believed that credit didn’t really matter in real life because it was just a number based on a few variables. Thankfully, we had representatives from Wells Fargo come in to dispel the myths of credit.
1. Start your credit early
a. It’s always good to start credit early. (Young adults do receive a bad rap on being irresponsible and reckless.) It would seem logical to not have a credit card because we could dig ourselves deep into debt. In the long run, if you’re able to manage your finances pretty well, you should have few problems with handling a credit card.
b. Having some sort of credit is better than having no credit at all.
2. What if you already have bad credit?
a. If you go to any banking institution, you can apply for a secure card. A secure card is a nifty tool for individuals who want to re-build their credit lines because they are able to re-establish they’re “credit relationship” with very few strings. A secure card is different than a normal credit card because you have to put down a specified down payment to establish a credit line. For example, I want to open a secured credit line of $300. I would initially deposit $300 to my banking institution and my line of credit would be $300. The beautiful thing about secured credit lines is that the banking institution that issued the secured card reports the card as being an unsecured card to credit report authorities.
While this was our first meeting, I’m excited to learn more as our week’s progress. I hope to have a better understanding of my financial wealth and the options that I can use in the future.
Microsoft Outlook Training
Hello, Minneapolis. My name is Rebecca Nguyen and I’m a senior at St. Catherine University. I am currently an Urban Scholar working in the City Clerk’s office and I’m enjoying my time learning about the upcoming elections happening in the city! I applied to the Urban Scholars program because I’ve always wanted to work for the City of Minneapolis. Our Urban Scholars program is preparing us to enter as competitive candidates in a global workforce. One of the ways Urban Scholars in preparing us is by providing Microsoft Outlook Training.
One of the most important things for a well-functioning office is efficient communication. We all use e-mail and phones to communicate but, there is one program platform that is almost standard among most workplaces: Outlook.
At first glance, Outlook looks basic and simple. I have used Outlook quite extensively and I thought that I wouldn’t learn a lot of new things at the training. Fortunately, simple things come with great surprises. I learned in the Outlook training that there are many functions that can make the workplace even more efficient. There are a lot of unspoken rules that are becoming best practices among the workplace.
1. Creating a signature
a. Since e-mails are used for constant communications, a lot of individuals tend to forget to have a signature at the end of a message. It’s fine to casually e-mail colleagues back and forth without inserting a signature but, it’s almost unprofessional to omit a signature to a new acquaintance because they would have no idea who you are or have any other means to connect with you other than the initial e-mail that you have provided.
2. Outlook Calendar will be your best friend
a. Outlook Calendar is probably one of the most underrated tools that most people will miss. You can schedule meetings, appointments, and anything else that you would need basic coordination among your colleagues. Outlook Calendar will be the middleman and you won’t have to hunt for the person to connect with them.
b. Outlook Calendar is also helpful with seeing when someone is available. It doesn’t allow you to peer into someone’s personal schedule but, you are able to see when someone is busy.
Those are a few things that you can utilize within Outlook. They are probably one of the most frequently used features and Outlook is a program that can make you appear extremely tech-savvy in the workplace.
My Summer Internship
Ahmed Abdulle here, you may not know this, but this isn’t my first summer internship with the City, in matter of fact I was in the Urban Scholars program last year as well. What I can say about this program is that it has allowed me to grow; matter of fact that is the theme of my speech. This summer is the summer of growth for me. I learned how to better allocate my time, develop professional networks, and have a positive outlook on my future.
This summer, I learned how to juggle my time between four projects I have done with the IT department. I documented the completion of two computer labs which will be used to help residents without computers access information and keep up with today’s form of communication. I assisted in setting up two community events in which the Chief Information Officer Otto Doll talked about the Digital Divide happening in Minneapolis. I set up a mobile computer lab for the City of Minneapolis IT department in hopes to give out surveys to the residents of Minneapolis. And I worked with my supervisor to create a website about Cyber Security for National Night Out. With all of that on my plate I don’t think I would have succeeded without the support and constant flow of advice from my supervisor. She taught me to book and block time out of my calendar to focus on specific tasks I needed to get done that day or week.
My supervisor, Elise Ebhardt is one of the most amazing people I have had the privilege to work with. She helped make this summer one to remember. She taught me the importance of work ethics, and how one should present himself in a professional way. One thing I like about Elise is that she would help me connect with people I can learn a lot from. She helped schedule a tour of the Unisys facility for me and Jamil. She also scheduled a lunch for me and the Chief Information Officer Otto Doll, where he gave me great advice on how to succeed in the IT industry. And the one attribute I really like about her is how she helps me correct my mistakes. Instead of telling me I did something wrong and I needed to correct it myself as soon as possible, she would make it a teachable moment by talking with me instead of to me. She made me feel like I was working with her instead of for her. Without her I honestly cannot say I would have done as much as I did this summer. I feel like I learned how to be a better employee because of her. And As for my growth in leadership I have Paul Robinson to thank.
One of the most memorable meetings I had with Paul was the one-on-one I had with him. We talked about my hopes, my dreams, my goals,…….and how I have no idea what they are. He told me how when he was in college he tried to study something that could have made him a lot of money. However he didn’t enjoy the classes and realized that path wasn’t his to take. He advised me to not worry, and that I should take a lesson from history. He told me to look at my past, and the things I have accomplished. He told me that, even though I may not know what lies ahead, there is something guiding me, calling out to me, and I just have to be ready to answer it. I find what he said to be true, I don’t know what I want to do, where I will go after college, but I know that the Urban Scholars Internship will help me get there.
As I said earlier, this isn’t my first summer with the city. However I did learn a lot about what it takes to become a leader. I learned the importance of time management. I made it my habit to set reminders on my calendar to help me keep up with my tasks so I don’t fall behind. My supervisor has been a great mentor and helped connect me with amazing people in the IT industry. And thanks to Paul Robinson, I don’t panic about my career path as much as I used to. He taught me the importance of patience and keeping true to my core values. This has been an amazing summer, thank you.
Getting to Know Chief Harteau
Hey there, my name is Fedha Abera and I am one of the 2013 Urban Scholar Interns working for the City of Minneapolis this summer. I work in the City Clerk’s office and it has been quite the learning experience. Aside from work, I am currently a student at Gustavus Adolphus College and going into my 3rd year. My major of choice is Political Science and I am minoring in African Studies as well. I’ve always had an interest in politics and that is one of the reasons why I took the opportunity to apply for the Urban Scholars Program, in hopes of getting a better understanding of how the City actually works. So far, I’ve had the great pleasure of working for the City of Minneapolis and working with the other Urban Scholars this summer.
On July 22nd, we were fortunate enough to have a brown bag lunch meeting with Police Chief Janeé Harteau to get a better sense of what she does and how she got to where she is today. She started out the meeting by telling us how she served in the Police department for 26 years before becoming the Chief of Police. She began her career with the Police Department when she was 22 and during her years as an officer, she was promoted along the way. She served in organized crime and license investigation units such as narcotics and gang strike force, while working undercover as well. Chief Harteau went on to explain that throughout her career, she stayed true to herself and kept her core values intact. She also shared how important it is to take advantage of opportunities early on when given the chance. These were her words of advice for us to consider as we go back to college and go on to pursue our own paths and careers.
When asked about the lack of diversity of people serving in the Minneapolis Police Department, she indicated that this is an area they are struggling with and have been for a while. While 20% of people working in the Minneapolis Police Department are minorities, only 15% of the people serving are women. This makes her current situation even more unique because she is not only the first woman but she is also the first person of color to serve as the Chief of Police in Minneapolis. She acknowledged how during her years of service, the perception of women in the police force was difficult to deal with at times and she used this experience to explain why the number of women serving in the MPD are as low as they are today. This is one of the areas she hopes to change while she continues her work as the chief.
Community outreach has been something she has also been on the forefront about, and coming from a diverse back-round herself, she believes it’s important to embrace difference and change in order to work within the community and for the community. For example, one of the ways she engages the community is through social media. Chief Harteau prides herself in using Twitter as a tool to keep the Minneapolis community informed of her work and daily activity. Her work with “tweet-alongs” is a prime example of just how invested she is in informing the community about her duties, and establishing trust between the MPD and the Minneapolis community. To get caught up with her latest work, you can use the following link to follow her on twitter (https://twitter.com/ChiefHarteau).
All in all, it was a great learning experience to hear Chief Harteau talk about her back-ground, past experiences, and work thus far. After hearing her perspectives on current issues and community outreach efforts, I can honestly say that the Minneapolis Police Department and community is in good hands with her as the chief of the MPD.
Minneapolis Fire Department Training
Ahmed Abdulle Urban Scholars Intern 2013 here with a snapshot of my summer with the City of Minneapolis.
Hello all! Ahmed Abdulle here again wanting to share with you one of my projects I had the pleasure of working on. Click on the link above to check out a web page on Cyber Security. My supervisor Elise and I put together some tips on how you can keep yourself, and your kids safe while on the computer. There is also on the web page a flyer you can print out for your convenience.
Mayor Roundtable #3
Hi, my name is Camille Maddox and I will be attending the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, Austin in the fall. I recently graduated from Emory University in Atlanta, GA with a BA in Economics and African American Studies. This is my second year as an Urban Scholar. Last year I worked in the Minneapolis Department of Community Planning and Economic Development. I am excited to be back at the City and have enjoyed my time working with Contract Compliance Division of the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.
Today my fellow Urban Scholars and I attended the final Mayor Roundtable. The theme of today’s roundtable was personal questions for the Mayor. Ahmed started the discussion off by asking the Mayor a thought-provoking question about the possibility of future Urban Scholars to act as the City’s ambassadors to their local communities.
A number of the questions that followed allowed the group to learn about the Mayor’s favorite Minneapolis spots. Tesia’s question prompted the Mayor to share a few of his favorite Minneapolis restaurants, including Aster Café and World Street Kitchen, and his family’s love for local farmer’s markets. Nardos’s question revealed the Mayor’s winter hobby of cross country skiing and his appreciation for the City’s numerous parks.
Several other questions from our Urban Scholars’ team challenged the Mayor to think back to his college years. Leah asked the Mayor what he wished he had done in college. The Mayor answered by listing several things, including leading a healthier lifestyle and being more open to building relationships with strangers. Shanea’s question allowed the Mayor to comment on how he gained focus and clarity in college through his internships with newspaper companies.
Other intriguing questions posed at the roundtable focused on the Mayor’s plans following his departure from the City. Kendra asked what he plans to pursue once he is not Mayor. The Mayor stated that he plans to focus on improving Minneapolis Public Schools and promoting immigration as one of the City’s assets. The Mayor went on to talk more in-depth about his plans to work on closing the achievement gap in the City.
The questions asked near the end of the roundtable exposed the Mayor’s ultimate pet peeve and favorite 2013 summer reads. The Mayor explained that his biggest pet peeve is cynicism. Additionally, the Mayor listed three books he read this summer that are must-reads for Minnesota history lovers- A Love Affair with Birds: The Life of Thomas Sadler Roberts by Sue Leaf, The Assassination of Hole in the Day by Anton Treuer and The Pillsburys of Minnesotaby Lori Sturdevant and George S. Pillsbury.
The roundtable was bittersweet, because it was the last opportunity for us to engage the Mayor in a private discussion during the Urban Scholars Program. However, we all enjoyed learning about the Mayor’s future plans and how he spends his time outside of the office.
Professional Development and Business Etiquette Training
Hello, readers. My name is Leah Sorensen, and this summer I am working as an Urban Scholar in Mayor Rybak’s office. Today I am here to tell you about a recent event that the Urban Scholars attended.
On Monday, July 15, the Urban Scholars attended a one-hour training session called, “Take Control of Your Leadership / Professional Development.” The training session was hosted by Philomena Morrissey Satre, the Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion for the Mountain and Midwest regions at Wells Fargo Bank.
Ms. Satre opened the training session with a discussion about branding. We learned that one’s brand is both, “who you are known as” and “what you are known for.” Ms. Satre gave us six pieces of advice on how to brand ourselves.
- Identify your natural born talents – pick three natural born talents that others know about you
- Become a master connector – work at building relationships
- Be first in class – develop an area of expertise
- Inspire and be inspired – think about who you admire and why you admire them
- Ask for feedback – get perspectives from others about your actions and behaviors
- Develop a farmer’s philosophy – think about developing your brand in the long term
Next, we discussed first impressions. Ms. Satre reminded us that it only takes 30 seconds for someone to inform their first impressions about you. She also gave us a few pieces of advice on how to make sure we make a good first impression:
- Greetings are important – shake hands firmly
- Always smile
- Make good eye contact
- Use good body language – do not slouch or cross your arms
- Dress accordingly and appropriately
Finally, we were given a brief overview of networking. According to the 2008 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of jobs are found through networking. So having the ability to network well is hugely advantageous. Here is the advice Ms. Satre gave us on how to network well:
- Great relationships require the “law of reciprocity” – strong relationships are mutually beneficial and fulfilling
- Meaningful connections require commitment – a connection is not built through one conversation or email, you have to follow-up to build the connection
- Informational interviews are an important piece of networking – they are a great way to network and to learn more about your potential areas of interest
- Networking happens every day – always be ready to engage and tell your story
As Urban Scholars, we have the opportunity to interact with many important leaders in City government. The advice Ms. Satre gave us at this information session will be useful not only to make the most of the rest of our time as Urban Scholars, but also as we complete our college educations and step into our careers.
Shanea’s Voice: Results Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office
Hello my fellow readers. My summer has been filled with various projects, workshops, and the opportunity to talk with City of Minneapolis employees that are in positions of influence about their career path, and what advice they could give me as I am weighing my options on what to do after I graduate next spring. I have truly enjoyed my time in the Urban Scholars program, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in local government, has an interest in learning something new, or is exploring employment options for their future career path.
Last time, I was with you I reported on “Dressing for Success” which was a workshop held by Macy’s Consultants. However, this time I will be shifting gears to give insight on the work that the City Coordinator’s Office is engaged in, and some of the data that was reported at the Results Minneapolis session on Tuesday July, 9, 2013.
The main discussion topics from this session were the following: City of Minneapolis Employee Engagement Trend, Perceptions of Safety, by Neighborhood, Sense of Community among Minneapolis Residents, and Tree Canopy. These topics of discussion stemmed from of the City of Minneapolis six goals which are: A City that Works, A Safe Place to Call Home, Eco-Focused, Many People, One Minneapolis, Jobs & Economic Vitality, and Livable Communities, Healthy Lives.
On the discussion around City of Minneapolis Employee Engagement Trend various department heads spoke of how the statistics from 2011 at 56 percent engagement is lower than they would want from employee engagement. Although they would like this percentage to increase department heads spent time discussing ways to improve engagement, but also to measure employee’s sense of engagement because it is a possibility that employees have a different outlook on the work that they are involved in and do not perceive it as high engagement.
There was a great amount of time spent on the Perceptions of Safety, by Neighborhoods, and a Sense of Community among Minneapolis Residents. During this discussion the City Coordinator’s Office reported data from the various neighborhoods in Minneapolis on their perception of safety. The data showed that overall most Minneapolis neighborhoods reported over 80 percent with the perception that their neighborhood is safe, but the neighborhoods that reported below 80 percent were the following: Camden (64 percent), Near North (47 percent), Phillps (73 percent), and Powderhorn (78 percent).
The data presented allowed the various department heads to discuss how these results correlated with the discussion around Sense of Community among Minneapolis Residents. The points that that were made were the following: How do school districts impact “sense of community and safety”, How do criminal activity and gun shots in residents neighborhoods alter their sense of community and safety even if it was only an incident they witnessed once, How can the racial equity toolkit increase residents perception of community, and How can survey questions be messaged to understand the ‘true’ perceptions of community members around these issues? These points and questions were great take a-ways from the discussion, and concerns that will be addressed later by having more analysis adding the variable of race to target which populations of people have a lower perception of a safety and lack of community.
The last topic of discussion that was interesting to me was the topic of tree canopy. Due to the fact that I am not a home-owner, as of yet, there were some issues and concerns around trees that were talked about that interest me, but that I did not have former knowledge on. The talking points from this discussion revolved around the following: removal of ash-trees before they die or become removed due to storms, discussion around home-owners hesitancy to plant larger trees in front of their homes even though larger trees are better for the environment and save energy, discussion around trees impacting healthier lifestyles and decreasing criminal activity, the procedure around boulevard trees and working with City of Minneapolis Public Works to have tree roots expanded by cement for more stability. For more information about Tree Canopy in the city click on the link:http://www.startribune.com/opinion/editorials/214989301.html
That is all for now my fellow readers. I hope you learned something new and enjoyed my blog posting. Until next time.
Shanea Turner-Smith, Urban Scholar
Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights
Office of Police Conduct Review
Urban Scholars Feel The Heat During Minneapolis Firefighter Training on Friday July 12, 2013 at the Emergency Operations Training Facility. KSTP 5 News Coverage.
Mayor’s Roundtable #2
Ahmed Abdulle here to give you all an exclusive insight of a meeting we Urban Scholars had with the Mayor of the City of Minneapolis. As Urban Scholars we get the amazing privilege to meet the Mayor and share with him what we learned and currently working on as Urban Scholars Interns. Some of the topics we discussed with Mayor Rybak consisted of; Immigrant Communities and how they can help the City of Minneapolis become more diverse, the Minneapolis Police Department and the importance of trust between the officers and the residence, and the roles of the Mayor of Minneapolis.
Fedha, one of the Urban Scholars asked the Mayor what the City’s attitude is on the growing immigrant communities. Mayor Rybak said that diversity is and always should be considered as an asset to the City. In matter of fact the growing diversity in Minneapolis lead to the initiation of the Step-Up Program. Mayor Rybak takes pride in seeing that the workforce reflects the diversity of the City of Minneapolis. Tesia, another Urban Scholar talked about her time with the Minneapolis Police Department. One of her first concerns when she first started was the racial tensions between the police and the residents of Minneapolis. Mayor Rybak talked about the progress the Police department has made in regards to gaining the residents’ trust.
Mayor Rybak talked about the roles he manages as the Mayor of Minneapolis. He talked about how he manages police and fire. He told us how some residents believe that he has authority over a lot more than he actually does. Whenever there is a disaster such as a tornado, or floods, he doesn’t have the ability to do anything directly however his role as Mayor is to bring people with special skills together to solve the issues at hand. For example the last storm caused a lot of trees to be uprooted and damage some private properties. The Mayor talked with the Directors of the Park Boards, the county, and the federal to find the best ways to help the residents that were affected by the storm.
Meeting with Mayor Rybak is one of my favorite things I am able to do as an Urban Scholar this summer. Meeting with the Mayor and having him recognize my work and ambitions gives me the confidence that I am on the right path in life. Hearing his advice on how my fellow Urban Scholars and I should think of the future makes me feel like I have been given the secret code to a successful career. We have one more meeting with the Mayor this summer towards the end of July. Until then I will work hard as and Urban Scholar and City of Minneapolis employee. Till next time this is Ahmed Abdulle with an update of my summer as an Urban Scholars Intern.
Mayor’s Roundtable #2
For Lack of a Segway…
Hello again, Aaron Brink- Johnson here. Last Sunday I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the City’s annual Pride Parade. The City Council rented 13 Segways for the 13 Council Members to ride during the parade to show their support and to celebrate the recent law allowing gay marriage in the state of Minnesota. Due to unforeseen circumstances all but 4 Council Members had to opt out of riding their Segways. Unfortunately, this left 9 Segways paid for, but unused. Luckily for me, my supervisor, and organizer of the Segway plan asked if any staff wanted to ride the remaining Segways. I jumped at the opportunity! I had never ridden a Segway before. For the first 5 minutes I was very nervous, but after that I began to get the hang of it. By the end of the parade I was doing tricks including 360’s and ‘moonwalking’. Riding a Segway itself is an expensive and once-in-a-lifetime experience, let alone in an event with that many people. It was great a way to have some fun and meet many new people. I owe it all to Urban Scholars for giving me this wonderful opportunity.
Pride Parade Segway Photos
Former Scholar Gives Back
Hi, my name is Aaron Brink-Johnson. I currently have one semester left at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN. I have been working for City Council Member Meg Tuthill this summer. I wanted to become an Urban Scholar because I have a particular fascination in how city policies affect people’s lives. As the second set of Urban Scholars, we had the distinct pleasure of welcoming back a former Urban Scholar Jilla Nadimi. Jilla was a Business Licensing Intern last summer. She found a full time job after college (with the Elections Office) because she was an Urban Scholar! Jilla began by telling a funny anecdote about her Urban Scholars interview was actually conducted from a phone booth at a truck stop in Western Poland. She described how she “applied on a whim” while studying abroad in Europe and that she had a lot of jetlag her first work day for the City. Jilla stressed the importance of “creating your own internship” and said that she designed projects that interested her. One such project was rewriting Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Program ordinances. Grocery Stores and supermarkets are supposed to provide healthy fruits and vegetables to women and children at a reduced rate. However, what Jilla discovered was the fruits and vegetables being provided were only lemons and potatoes! She worked with Community Supported Agriculture programs to ensure a better variety of produce was provided for women and kids. Additionally, Jilla worked on writing the pedal pub ordinances which helped keep the group bicycling bars that we have all come to know and love. Jilla concluded her brief meeting by giving the current Scholars a lot of advice for getting a full time job with the City and for life in general:
Always keep a copy of a finished project- You never know when it might come in handy
Eat lunch with your coworkers – It helps build your network and could lead to jobs in the future
Don’t always talk about work- It can be important to show your colleagues that you have goals outside the work environment
Stay neutral on controversial topics – You never know when a bad decision could come back to haunt you
Dress for the job you want- People take notice of how you present yourself, it could lead to jobs or promotions
Check in often with your colleagues- It promotes a sense of mutual responsibility
Visit the Career Services Center at your college – They may have key connections to employers
Work backwards from the job you really want, assessing the steps you need to get there – It is hard to run before you walk
Live by your means – Don’t buy that expensive car or apartment if you can’t afford it
Lastly she expressed the importance of using technology to further your career. She mentioned the websites Lynda.com, an online skills development site, Vistaprint.com, a resource for printing your own business cards, and Linkedin.com, a professional social networking site. Perhaps she should have included the City of Minneapolis website, where you can soon apply to become a 2014 Urban Scholar!
Logic Model Presentation
Hello, my name is Nardos Adinew, and I currently finished my first year at the University of Minnesota, Twin cities. I wanted to participate in Urban Scholars, because I wanted to learn more about leadership skills as well as add on to my knowledge of public health. Which is the main reason I wanted to work in the Minneapolis Health Department. The purpose of the Widgets/Business Process Presentation was for us to learn about logic model, a tool used to plan any project in an organized manner.
When I first walked into the conference room and saw a bunch of posters on the wall with questions, and arrows I was a bit confused as to what we were going to learn that day. However, once I had the pleasure of meeting our presenters for the day Jodi Molenaar-Hanson and Cassidy Gardenier, who did a great job of explaining what the logic model is and how it works thoroughly, it all made sense. I learned that the logic model is a tool used to illustrate what a certain program does, how it works, and what its result is going to be based on an articulated set of assumptions. Although, unless the following elements are used the model won’t work properly. The elements include inputs/resources needed for the program to work, outputs activities that lead to what the program does with resources, theories of change related to activities as well as the last element outcome.
To help us further understand, Cassidy used an activity in the presentation as well as examples on how to use the logic model in our group project for education on Ranked Choice Voting. I wanted to know what other fellow Urban Scholars thought of the presentation, so I asked a few of them:
Tayis Lawson- I like the approaches of this model because I think it is describing what you already have in your head/your own idea and I also like how flexible it is! I will definitely use it in the future when working on identifying an appropriate outcome/impact of a plan.
Ahmed Abdulle- I think it was something we needed. It will help me organize in a more structured manner. It’s not just something to use at work. It’s also something to use personally at school or otherwise.
The logic model is a tool used by many organizations even in the private sector, which means that it’s a standard used by many in the work force. I’m glad I had a chance to learn what it is and how to apply it in my future endeavors. One thing that stuck out to me is a statement from Cassidy “it’s important to keep in mind the if- this-then-that theory” a concept I have used earlier in my academic career and will probably continue to use in the future.