Alumna Interview: Julia Kluger (Fels ’14), Operations Director for Play On, Philly!

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Julia Kluger (Fels ’14) completed her Executive MPA while working full-time for the Philadelphia nonprofit Play on, Philly! In this post, she shares her thoughts on how Fels helped her in her career and some advice for current students. 

Describe your work for Play on, Philly! What’s their mission? 

Play On, Philly! provides 300 under-served Philadelphia youth in grades K - 12 with dynamic, rigorous after-school music education. They each receive about 600 hours a year of training and performance opportunities. Students study music with the goal of fostering social preparedness and life skills including teamwork, discipline, and resiliency. As Operations Director, I am responsible for the organization's human and financial resources, including creating and installing any and all systems needed to make the organization run.

How has Fels helped you on your career path? 

Fels gave me basic practical training in all the course areas (accounting, budgeting, statistics, economics, and performance management) needed for work in any organization – nonprofit or for-profit – that I had missed during my undergraduate education. Due to my enrollment in the executive portion of Fels (part-time student, full-time worker), I was able to apply each week's studies directly to my work at Play On, Philly! 

Even more useful, Fels provided the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the most amazing, intelligent, and supportive people I have ever met. I can now count as friends and confidants peers in city government, state government, nonprofits, for-profits, and everything in between. I am grateful to Fels for introducing me to these wonderful, giving people in the Greater Philadelphia area and for pushing us all to challenge each other, week after week.

Do you have a favorite Fels course?

One of my favorite Fels courses (I can't narrow it down to just one) was actually my budgeting class. It was taught by the Deputy Budget Director for Philadelphia and we applied the theory each week to the actual budget for the city. This class combined theory, practical knowledge, and teamwork (we had a fantastic group project at the end – go Team Mayor Earl Grey!) for an exciting and challenging semester. 

What advice would you recommend for students looking to work in the nonprofit sector? 

I would advise students to keep in mind the daily tasks and essential skills required in any job or work environment. Most nonprofits have an inspiring mission and you will be a public servant regardless of which mission you choose. The difference in satisfaction comes from the potential for fulfillment in the day-to-day activities and the people with whom you will be working. I've been lucky to find the wonderful people at Play On, Philly! 

Also, keep in touch with your Fels classmates -- they are excellent sounding boards (and happy hour buddies) even after graduation!

Fels Institute of Government

The Fels Institute of Government
3814 Walnut St. 
Philadelphia, PA 19104

(215) 898-7326

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