Ashley Feuer-Edwards, '07, Joins Fels Staff

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Ashley Feuer-Edwards
April 7, 2018

Ashley Feuer-Edwards, MPA ‘07, recently joined Fels as the Career Development and Partnerships Advisor. In this interview, OJT Communications Fellow Aaron Kelley sat down with Ashley to learn more about her life, her career, and her new position.

 

Why did you want this position, and how did you first hear about it?

What made this position so interesting to me was the fact that I was a Fels alumna myself, and the experience was really very formative for me. Studying at Fels changed the entire trajectory of my career. When I started, I didn’t have a very clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life. I only knew that I was, at least, committed to working in the public sector. However, my time at Fels helped me to sort things out and prepared me to go out and start my career. What's more, Fels gave me a really terrific education and helped me form many great relationships. About a year ago, after working in a lot of different sectors, I decided to start my own consulting practice. Around this time, I ran into Lauren (the previous Career Development staff member) at the Fels Holiday Party and we ended up talking about the search for someone to fill in for her during this transitional period at Fels. This seemed like a great way to give back to the program that gave so much to me, so I looked into it more. My work flexibility gave me the ability to take on new and interesting projects, and while this isn’t really a “project” in the strictest sense, I became really excited at the idea: it sounded great to work with students going through an experience that was very similar to my own a decade ago, to have the opportunity to share with them advice on how to shape their careers, and to be able to give back to my old program!

 

Let’s go back to before your career began. What did you do before you came to Fels?

First, I went to Penn State to study advertising and sociology. I left there having no idea what to do with my life--advertising didn’t quite seem like the right fit for me, as it was too profit-oriented and didn’t actually excite me in the way I expected. On the other hand, I loved sociology, but I unfortunately didn’t know how to translate that passion and education into something that felt right for me, career-wise. After college, I got a job working in commercial real estate, of all things. However, my passion for solving actual social issues led me to look at different graduate social policy programs. During this time, I began to grow a bit more interested in politics and ended up stumbling into the idea of studying public policy or public administration, instead. The program here at Fels seemed to be both focused on the types of issues that I really cared about, but also seemed very results focused--this really excited me! So, I committed to the idea and came to Fels to complete my education, graduating with my MPA and a Politics Certificate in 2007.

 

During your time at Fels, did you get advice from anyone on staff?

At that time, I don’t believe that there was someone here with exactly the same career development title, but I do remember talking to John Mulhern a lot. I also spoke with Chris Patusky at different points while here at school. I’m not sure of Chris’s title, but he did a lot of student advising and was really a great resource and mentor to me. He would always give lots of good advice that really helped me think about what career opportunities might be interesting to me. Honestly, I would probably offer the same advice to students now: one of the great things at Fels is that the instructors are practitioners with large networks--students can easily meet with so many current professionals who have either gone to Fels or are connected to Fels in some way, most of whom are thrilled to meet with current Fels students, discuss their careers, and offer internships. This network is truly invaluable!

 

What are you most excited about regarding your new position?

I really am most excited about helping the students work out career paths that are right for them. Throughout my life, my father was someone to whom I could look for help in working through all of the transition points in my career. While he didn’t necessarily understand this sector and didn’t really know what all I was trying to do in the nonprofit world, he did understand the universal challenges behind making career decisions and always gave me great advice. When I started my own consulting practice, I thought a lot about what I wanted to do and worked with a coach who was integral in getting me through that process. Now, in this position, I get to act sort of like a mentor myself--like my father and my career coach were to me--for current students by giving them advice and helping to make things a reality for them. Connecting students to job opportunities, new contacts, and internships will be extremely rewarding, but more than just that, I am most excited about being able to help students really think about their own careers, take next steps for themselves, and really feel good about the career decisions that they are making.

 

Do you have any simple career advice that I could pass along?

As I said to a few students at our meet-and-greet sessions last month, when you think about your career ahead of you, think about Steve Jobs “connecting the dots”. The story, if I remember it correctly, goes something like this: sometime after Steve officially dropped out of Reed College, he took a calligraphy class that he never knew would be beneficial to him in the future for any real reason. However, later on, Mac computers were designed with their much-beloved multiple typefaces and proportionally spaced fonts… each of which were based on cool ideas that he learned in that calligraphy class years before. The point of this story is that we all must be open to new things throughout our life, knowing that everything will eventually fit together. Many people start to have self doubt about what they are doing mid-way through a career. However, as long as you take new opportunities when they are available--you need to be open to the ride--everything really will connect for you in the end. Additionally, while working in the public sector may sometimes be scary since there is often less of a defined path to get to a certain place, it is also quite liberating. In this sector, there are a lot of different paths to any position that you may want. As long as you take new challenging roles and continue moving around as you can, you will one day be able to get to that position. The corporate sector can often work sort of like a ladder, but the public sector is more like a lattice: frequently, you may move more laterally than vertically, but that movement will still help you get to where you need to be in the end.

 

Is there anything else that you would like to include?

I just want everyone to know that I really look forward to being here, and am really excited to meet as many students as I possibly can! My office hours are currently 10-1 on Tuesdays at Fels, but students can feel free to reach out to me by email at feueredwards@gmail.com to set up a meeting outside of those hours (I would be glad to chat with them at my office in center city, at a coffee shop, or via skype, phone, or a similar service). I am here now and ready to help however I can!

 

Penn LPS

The lifelong learning division of Penn Arts & Sciences

3440 Market Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19104-3335

(215) 898-7326
felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu

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