Monday, November 12, 2012

I have a job for you: Search for a career.

Work: we often hate it, but we’ve all got to do it anyway, right?
PFA Co-President Gregory Jasinski
Last week, PFA welcomed special-guest Stan Luboff to SPEA for a multitude of events. I had the pleasure of attending these events with Mr. Luboff, hearing him discuss in-depth his lengthy work history and his very successful career. As we celebrate Veteran’s Day this week, I note that Mr. Luboff is a US Veteran. After spending 6+ years in the Air Force, he began an amazing 28-year career with Bank of America in 1972. He has spent the last 10+ years working for the Illinois Division of the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. According to Mr. Luboff, his mission there is three-fold: “1) to create jobs; 2) to create jobs; and 3) to create jobs.” That powerful phrase has resonated with me, which leads me to this blog-post.
As a student who will finish his Master’s degree in a few short months, I am pretty busy lately researching employers, writing cover letters, sending out resumes, and scheduling interviews. Nevertheless, I still do not know what I want to do or where I want to be after graduation, but whatever job title I end up with, I sure hope it’s the start of a great full-time, real-world career.

A career is not just lines on a resume; it is a lifelong development and pursuit of your passions, goals, and dreams. “I love this class” or “I love my job,” we’ve all heard the sayings. You even may have fallen victim to uttering them yourself at one point or another. But do you really stroll into class or waltz into work with a smile on your face every single day, thinking to yourself, “Wow, this is exactly what I want to do for the rest of my life!”? Of course not-- but if you do, congratulations (and keep reading). Often, a job or a class begins to feel like a chore that simply results in a paycheck deposited in your bank account or a grade recorded on your transcript. Why do you think that academic semesters are only 4 months long? Because such tedious obligations and mundane responsibilities begin to take control of our lives. Similarly, if you become mindlessly glued to the phone or lost in the computer screen (reading Twitter) on a daily basis at work, you’ll end up right where you started, in the seat you never left.

According to theorist Richard Florida, the average American changes jobs every 3 years; and those under the age of 30 changes jobs once a year! So transitions and jobs changes are a common part of life, but those jobs are all part of your career. For starters, an internship is a great opportunity to get a feel for a company, field, or industry. It is also the best time to begin networking and sharing advice and information with other. According to Mr. Luboff, there is absolutely nothing better than direct person-to-person human interaction in the real-world. Therefore, you must attend after-work or after-school events to meet new people and develop long-term professional relationships. Grab lunch with a boss, co-worker, or friend to catch up on life. Yes, take advantage of LinkedIn, but more importantly, keep in touch personally. Then, when you begin your first full-time job, make sure that you can take steps up the ladder in your career, because if this is not possible, you will seriously need to plan a step out the door. I guarantee you that once you start working you’ll often desire something different and you’ll always be searching for something more, be it a pay raise, a promotion, a new office, a change of scenery, or whatever. And if you don’t believe me or you don’t think you will, just wait until you have your (first) midlife crisis (or mid-midlife crisis).

Simply put, a professional or academic career is a journey of challenges and opportunity. A career requires commitment, hard work, and dedication. (Likewise, a little luck along the way never hurts either.) The rewards are certainly worth the effort, so take advantage of your skills and do GREAT things. Be bold and invest in an advanced degree. Take risks and become an entrepreneur. Have confidence and apply for a better job. You may not see your family or friends for extended periods of time, but you’ll definitely learn a thing or two about yourself and others as you grow older (and hopefully wiser). Finally, if anyone ever tells you “no” along the way with respect to something you truly believe in, just remember that with the right grammar and punctuation, the word “impossible” says “I’m possible.

Endnote- Make sure to check out when you have a chance. It is a very useful resource with lots of great career tips and other advice.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Women in Public Finance

By Taylor Paton
According to the nonprofit, Women in Public Finance, “The mission of Women in Public Finance is to advance women's leadership opportunities and potential by fostering relationships and networking, and providing educational and learning activities and forums.” That is, essentially, the aim of SPEA’s Public Finance Association’s Women in Public Finance Committee: to connect women who are interested in public finance. For some, that is all the explanation needed. Women thrive in with the support and presence of other women; however, I may be biased having attended an all women’s college for my undergraduate education. For others, the question may still remain, why have a public finance committee for women?
 The financial sector is seeing a slow in the number of interested women. In the 1970s and 1980s women were breaking into the financial industry in droves; however, today less young women are entering or even interested in the finance fields. In his article “Lost Generation: Young Women Flee Finance,” Kyle Stock states,
 “Between 2001 and 2010, the number of women over the age of 55 in finance fields…rose by 296,000 or 45.2%. This reflects the waves of women who joined the industry 30 years ago and stayed.”

Thus, in the same period the number of women between the ages of 20 and 24 decreased. So why did these women leave? Why aren’t more women entering into the industry like their mothers’ generation? According to Stock, “women hitting the workforce in the 21st-century aren’t driven by the same sense of purpose that their generation had—the mission of breaking into the boys club.” Stock concludes that women are avoiding financial industries to maintain a work-life balance. Personally, I believe that is nonsense, yet I will not disagree that there is a stigma that financial industries tip the balance in favor of work over life (See my plug below for PFA event coming in January). I agree more with Stock’s notion of the sense of purpose. Women are driven by a purpose, men too. As women, we need a cause, a reason to do what we do. Where is Mitt Romney’s “Binder of Women” when you need it?
 Well, Mittens, your binder decided to go to D.C. without you. Today’s headlines are filled with titles such as Newsday’s “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women In U.S. Senate” and CNN’s “Women gain in the Senate” and “Women are no longer outsiders” and my favorite, The Daily Beast’s “Estrogen Feast: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” If you haven’t already concluded, today was an important day in politics for women. Hannah Rosin’s Opinion article for CNN earlier this evening explained that it wasn’t long ago that women were newcomers in Washington D.C. Rosin said,
“Workplace studies from the 1970’s showed that when women reached a third of an office population, their presence no longer seemed unusual. The Senate will be one-fifth female. We’re not there yet, but we’re getting close.”
Today is a great day to be a woman. Today is a great day to be in the public sector. Today is a great day to get interested in public finance. Public finance is the best of both worlds. If you want to know more about careers in public finance, have questions about work-life balance in public finance, or just want to hang out with some wonderful, inspiring women join us in January as SPEA’s Women in Public Finance Committee teams up with the state of Indiana Chapter of Women in Public Finance to discuss all of this and more. Ask your questions or just come to hang out. Watch your inbox for more info!
 Great articles mentioned in this blog:
 Abigail Pesta. “Estrogen Fest: Key Women in the Race for Congress.” The Daily Beast.
 Hannah Rosin. “Women less likely to be political outsiders now.” Special to CNN.
 Bloomberg News. “Elizabeth Warren, Deb Fischer help set record number of women in U.S. Senate.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

"How to Avoid a Mid Life Crisis"

"How to Avoid a Mid Life Crisis"
By Professional Development Chair Taylor Paton
There aren’t many 20 something year olds I know of who have contemplated a possible mid life crisis, that is, I didn’t know many before meeting Steve Langerud last weekend. Principal of Steve Langerud and Associates, LLC and DePauw University’s Director of Career Development, Steve had some interesting insight on how to find a sense of meaning in your career. In order to find your sense of meaning, ask yourself “Where can you do what you do well and care most deeply about?”
Most of us are asked what we want to be when we grow up from the time we can talk. For me, I told my mother at the age of two that I wanted to marry a bald guy who drove a bus. So when Steve said many of our truest ambitions stem from those first conceived career paths, I was a little confused. However, I gave him a shot and found that by asking “where” before “what” will ultimately lead to a career down I path I cleared myself. Self-reflection on your skills, the issues and people you want to work with, and the type of environment you want to work in will give you the ultimate job description perfectly tailored to you.
Now where do you find this mystical job that you just dreamed up? Ask my future bald bus driver husband… just kidding. You will have to find this job by getting out and talking to people. They will ask you what you want to do and you will tell them where you are going. Tell them the skills you have, the issues and people you want to work with, and the environment you want to work in. Steve calls this your “Ten Second Statement.” Chances are the person you are talking to may know someone who does something similar to what you want to do. Ask for that person’s information and see if it is, in fact, what you want to do.
Gone are the days of career paths laid out for you. The biggest take away from Steve’s presentation: Find someone who will pay you for what you love to do (Similar to Confusious’ quote, “If you choose a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”). And that, ladies and gents, is how you will avoid a mid life crisis.
Visit Steve’s website to find out about him, read his blog, and even send him an e-mail at Also, Depauw University also has a great page devoted to Steve called “Meet Steve:”
Afterword: This blog was in no way meant to harm the feelings of bald guys and/or bus drivers and/or bald guys who drive buses. Steve was somewhat right about my childhood career plans translating to my current ambitions. I plan to work in city management addressing issues of fiscal sustainability for the greater good of citizens, thus allowing bus drivers, even bald ones, to keep their jobs.

Editor's note: Taylor also serves as the Chair of PFA's Women in Public Finance Committee. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Importance of Understanding the Facts Behind Renewable Energy Subsidies
PFA Environment and Energy Chair Hank Hebel 

Finding adequate financing to fund renewable energy and sustainability can be an extremely difficult task.  Often, we depend on initiatives taken by the federal government to assist in providing those funds to support the accompanying investment.  Subsidies from the federal government are not a new phenomenon, yet campaign rhetoric can distort the facts and make things seem as though the government is “picking winners and losers”.  In regards to energy investment, the government has historically provided subsidies through tax incentives such as production tax credits (PTCs).  PTCs have been extremely important to the recent rise in wind production; however, these credits for the wind industry will expire at the end of the year.  Some may respond that an industry must be made to survive on its own without government support, and while this may be a valid point, it is important to understand the context of energy subsidization in the U.S.  According to a study by DBL Investors, coal, oil, gas, and nuclear industries have received a cumulative total of $630 billion in a variety of subsidies, such as land grants, R&D write-offs, and other tax credits, while the renewables industry has received only $50 billion in government investment.  Yet, much of the subsidization of the coal, oil, gas and nuclear industries is permanently written into the tax code, while many subsidies for renewable energy are appropriated on an annual basis.  Therefore, a true discussion about the government “picking winners and losers” cannot be seriously examined without these facts being fairly represented.  

Check out the DBL study here: 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Welcome to the SPEA Public Finance Association, 2012 – 2013!

PFA Co-Presidents Ashley Ames and Gregory Jasinski, along with our Vice President Alex Luboff, would like to personally invite you to join us and your fellow SPEAons at Yogi’s tomorrow night, Thursday at 7:00pm, for an informal social and call-out meeting.

Yogi’s is on 10th and Indiana Ave., just down the street from the SPEA building.

Please visit our website [] and like ourFacebook page [] for more SPEA PFA informationand details!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

PFA Tax Day Bar Crawl

In honor of Tax Day 2012 PFA is hosting the 1st Annual Tax Day Bar Crawl!

The crawl is happening TONIGHT 4/14 so if you are looking for a way to celebrate the end of tax season 2012 and want to start spending your refund come out dressed to impress in your best tax auditor outfit and join your fellow PFAers for some late night drinking and tax calculating.

Check out the event on PFA's facebook page for more details!

Also, be sure to keep up to date with other events and job opportunities posted on the PFA website.
Sycamore Advisors and the Congressional Budget Office are still hiring interns for this summer - don't miss out on these opportunities if your current summer plans still only include your couch and Netflix :)

Happy filing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Networking and Career Panel Event - 3/21/12

PFAers - Don't miss out on an amazing opportunity to talk with SPEA alum currently working in the public finance field during PFA's Networking and Career Advice Panel!

Join us TOMORROW from 1:30 - 3:10pm as SPEA alum representing Grant Thornton, Crowe Horwath, the Office of Management and Budget, and the city of Hamilton, OH discuss their career paths, life in their respective cities, how SPEA helped them land their positions, and opportunities at their places of employment via videoconference.  Check out the schedule below to plan ahead as each panelist will be calling in at a different time.  There will be plenty of opportunities for Q&A and FREE Jimmy John's for lunch!  Be sure to RSVP to if you plan to attend any or all of this exciting event.

Event Schedule:

1:30 - 1:50 Adam Helms, City Clerk with the City of Hamilton, OH and Joshua Smith, City Manager.
 The City of Hamilton, OH has THREE full time fellowships to share with our students!
 (SPEA Careers listings 6556, 6557, 6558 - deadlines are April 1st)
 Click here for Joshua A. Smith's bio

1:50 - 2:10 Zachary Garber, Office of Management and Budget

2:10 - 2:30 Melissa Neuman, Budget Preparation Specialist, Office of Management and Budget.
Melissa is a SPEA MPA alum with concentrations in Public Financial Administration and Policy Analysis, 2010.

2:30 - 2:50 Michael Potter, Consultant at Grant Thornton, LLP Global Public Sector
Michael is a 2010 SPEA alum and former Service Corp Student and TA.   As a member of the Transportation Security Administration Performance Measurement and Management Team, Michael plays a key role in the production of the TSAs chief performance management report, the Management Objectives Report (MOR). Michael is responsible for coordinating data collection with program offices, compiling performance management data, and using the Performance Information Management System to create the reports at the airport, hub, regional, and national levels. In addition to his responsibilities in creating the MOR on a bi-weekly basis, Michael is responsible for the design, creation, and distribution, of over twenty 
performance management reports each month. As a member for the quality assurance team, Michael provides technical testing support for the Airport Information Management System.

2:50 - 3:10 Andrew B. Perry, CGFM, Municipal Finance Advisory Consultant at Crowe Horwath LLP. Andrew is a 2010 SPEA alum.

This is a great opportunity to network and get insider advice from SPEA alum, we hope to see you all there!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Employer Visit: Sycamore Advisors, LCC

Former SPEA students Emily Loehr and (PFA's very own former President) Ann Richardson will be on campus Monday, February 27th, to talk with current students about career development and job/internship opportunities with their Indianapolis-based company, Sycamore Advisors, LLC. 

Employer Overview:
Sycamore Advisors, LLC is a WBE certified firm, registered with the State of Indiana and the City of Indianapolis, specializing in providing independent financial advisory services to municipal governments, focused on developing and structuring cost-effective and appropriate solutions for financing major capital projects, as well as general operational and strategic financial consulting. Sycamore has extensive experience in wastewater, storm water and infrastructure capital financing programs, including addressing financial capability issues with the U.S. EPA. Sycamore Advisors is also registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board as a Municipal Financial Advisor and is registered with the Secretary of State in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Emily Loehr joined Sycamore Advisors in 2009, after completing her Master’s degree in Public Administration, with concentrations in public finance and policy analysis, from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs where she earned the distinction of  ‘John Ryan Fellow.’ She completed her B.A. in Economics from the University of Minnesota Morris.  Ms. Loehr focuses on data  and economic analysis; preparing rating agency briefing materials, pro-forma cashflows, analyses of system billing and collection data, preparation of comparative quantitative analytics for EPA negotiations, implementation of and financial projections for various utility user charges, and preparation of cashflow projections and draw schedules for various bond series.

Ann Richardson joined Sycamore Advisors as an intern in 2011, while completing her Masters’ degree in Public Administration, with a concentration in public finance, from Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  She completed her B.A. in Political Science and French from Purdue University.

Hosted by IU SPEA Office of Career Services and SPEA PFA.