Pacific Southwest Region 9 UTC

USC Price Students Strengthen Alumni Connections through New York Trek

Saturday, June 9, 2018 - 11:09pm

By Rui (Rae) Zhang, USC Price School MPL, Transportation, 2018 Alumnus

Is there a better way to spend the spring break than visiting Trojan alumni in New York? The 13 New York Trekkies selected from the 35 competitive applicants could not think of any other answer when they made plans this spring. Organized by Career Services of USC Price School, from March 11th to 15th, the New York Trek connected New York-based alumni with ten graduate students from Master of Planning (MPL), Master of Public Policy (MPP), Master of Public Administration (MPA), and Master of International Public Policy and Management (IPAMM), as well as 3 undergraduates from Real Estate Development. The Trek is a partnership program with the Office of Development in the Price School, which raised all the funds necessary to support student participation. Thanks to the huge support from more than ten USC alumni, parents and other enthusiastic professionals, Trekkies had the opportunity to communicate with leaders from numerous agencies and firms including The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, NBBJ, Capalino +, Rockefeller Foundation and NYC Office of Management and Budget, enjoyed several cultural tours including Tours of the Cemetery Trolley (with the guidance of Price School Planning History Professor David Sloane), High Line, and New York City Hall, dined with Trojan parents and alums, and met with Price alumni and prospective students at the Price Conversation event.

Trekkies at New York City hall

From left to right, second row: Janice Atmadja, IPPAM 2018; Valerie Savior, Director of USC Price School Career Services; Laura Alvarez Herrera, IPPAM 2018; Chinaza Oti, MPP 2018 Bethany McKee, MPP 2018; Zachary Whalen, MPA 2018; Andrew Philps, BS in Real Estate Development 2020.

First row: Sandy Southivilay, MPP 2019; Prithvi Deore, MPL 2018 Bronte Yamodim, BS in Real Estate Development 2019; Rui (Rae) Zhang, MPL 2018; Mary Beth Betts, Director of Research, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission; Jonathan Rofeim, BS in Real Estate Development 2019; Alexander Yee, MPL 2018; Julie Fancher, MPP 2019.

Photo by Dominic Alletto, Associate Director of USC Price School Career Services.

Each part of the trip provided unique perspectives on infrastructure, policy, strategic planning and public relations from both short-term and long-term views. At The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, students not only gained the knowledge about the Port Authority from an overview lecture given by alum Megan Maxwell, Senior Management Analyst and Lauren Filler, Leadership Fellow, but also appreciated the opportunity to take a tour of Occulus and the World Trade Center (WTC) guided by Michael Lavery, who leads public and community relations, and Glenn Guzi, Program Director at WTC. In addition to a stunning view from 4 WTC office tower, students learned from sstories of the planning, design, construction and public relations issues related to the new WTC towers, and the impacts of 9/11 on infrastructure restructuring and public relations.

Following the Port Authority trip, students were introduced to specific design principles of health care architecture at the headquarter of NBBJ, a global architecture, planning and design firm, with the support of Price alum Mark Koechling, Project Manager and other NBBJ professionals including Kristina Krail, Healthcare Planner; Tiffany Lee, Senior Associate; and Bryan Langlands; Principal. The creativity-driven environment provided opportunities for the policy enthusiasts to think more comprehensively on public-private partnerships.

Trekkies at Oculus with Glenn Guzi, Michael Lavery, and Price alum Megan Maxwell (third to fifth from the right, first row).

Photo by Dominic Alletto, Associate Director of USC Price School Career Services.

The lunch meeting at Capalino + Company, the No.1 lobbying and strategic consulting firm in NYU helped students to continue to  deepen their thinking. Industry leaders James Capalino, CEO; Richard Barth, Executive VP; Rick Kassel, Executive VP; and Price alum Mark Thompson, Executive VP shared their life experience and advised students on career paths.  They emphasized the connection between policy makers, companies, nonprofits and institutions to adapt to the market and achieve long-term success in NYC.

Trekkies at Capalino + Company with Price alum Mark Thompson (first from left, second row).

Photo by Dominic Alletto, Associate Director of USC Price School Career Services.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Development that supports us to introduce Price Undergraduates and Masters students to alumni leadings working in diverse firms across New York City.  This year we provided both breadth and depth to our program by including public, private and nonprofit sites and requiring students to also create informational interviews in fields of distinct interest with Trojans they identified themselves,” said Valerie Savior, Director of Price School Career Services. “This is also a recruitment program for the Office of Career Services; most of our visiting organizations are posting internships and jobs on PriceNET, allowing the NYC Career Trek to bring opportunities to all Price students.”

The last two visits were to Rockefeller Foundation and NYC Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and allowed participants to get a closer view of the work in non-profit organizations and government budgeting department. Panels focusing on data collection, processing, utilization and platform building highlighted the quantification in policy analysis and reshaped the policy students’ plan to acquire both hard skills and innovative visions. Rockeller foundation professionals and OMB alums David Greenberg, Associate Director for Health and Social Services; Kent Cherny, Assistant Director; and Royce Gene, Senior Analyst generously shared their time with the students and ensured and informative and productive session.

Trekkies at Rockefeller Foundation with Price alum Jennifer Rosenzweig, Associate Director, Monitoring & Organizational Performance (fourth from right, first row); Andrea Barrios, Innovative Finance Analyst (fifth from right, first row); Chukwudi Onike, Innovation Associate (fourth from left, second row); and Evan Tachovsky, Data & Tech Associate (third from left, second row).

Andrew Philps, sophomore Real Estate Development student benefited a lot from his first-time New York experience. “The Price Career Services New York City Trek was a great experience for undergraduates and graduate students alike. Establishing a network and relationships with Trojan alumni in NYC was very valuable and offered a great entry into the business world of New York,” he shared.  “The plethora of different business fields that we visited offered a great opportunity to learn about the potential of a Price degree in so many different avenues.”

Sandy Southivilay, first-year Master of Public Policy student, also recognized how fruitful the trip was to her. “The NY trek was an amazing opportunity to explore career opportunities in public policy and planning while enjoying the city,” she said. “As my first time in New York, I was not only excited to be able to experience the New York life, but also to find out how integral agencies like the Port Authority is to New York's public transportation and how companies like Capalino+ Company can inspire innovative designs as seen at the High Line.”

Besides the gratitude to all Price alums and professionals helping facilitate the site visits to the agencies and firms, participants were also thankful to all of the professionals who kindly spent their valuable time conducting informational interviews with the students; High Line and City Hall tour guides Frederica Sigel, Vice Chair of Land Use Committee & Landmarks Committee Member, and Mary Beth Betts, City Hall Tour Manager and Historian; dinner hosts Xavier Negroni, Managing Director, Amherst Pierpoint; Price alum Dave Penchoff; Professor David Sloane and other Price staff who provided the opportunity for students to expand connections with alums at the Price Conversation night.

About the Author: Rui Zhang

Rui (Rae) Zhang is a 2018 graduate of USC Price School Master of Planning with transportation concentration. She has coursework, internship and research experience with GIS, EIR, travel demand modelling, traffic impact analysis, transit fare policies and freight studies. She is looking for both internship and full-time employment opportunities in the transportation consulting industry. She can be reached at zhan305@usc.edu or via her personal portfolio website www.ruizhangportfolio.com.