Graduates of the School’s programs embark on a wide range of career paths in the broad area of public service and public affairs. The video interviews, alumni profiles, and stories of our distinguished alumni provide a snapshot of these paths.

Carleton 75 Alumni Videos

Alumni Interviews

Distinguished Alumni

Kelsey Baerg

Kelsey Baerg works in Advancement at Selkirk College. Read about her experiences in the MPNL program below.

Q: How did you know that Carleton SPPA was the right program for you?

“I was pretty interested in the non-profit sector and when looking at the availability of programs that were specifically for the charitable sector, it did seem to be the only one in Canada that had a specific non-profit focus. […] So when I found the Carleton program, it was the only Master’s that I applied to because I felt like it was such a perfect fit right from the get-go. As I started the program, I think my view of the non-profit sector widened and I was pleasantly surprised by how many different avenues and focuses the degree allowed you to choose from so you could really navigate your own path within the program.”

Q: What was the transition like from school to the workforce?

“I felt like the program really gave me a leg up in launching my career. Because I’m located in a rural community, the career opportunities aren’t as prominent and plentiful as in a larger city, so I felt like the MPNL program really helped me transition to more sophisticated positions. Using a very broad view of the entire Canadian philanthropic sector and a lot of the things that were emerging – trends, best practices and whatnot – I was able to bring them back to the rural community I’m based in to provide a little more ‘big city thinking’ in the positions I was holding. That helped me transition into working in higher education in my community.”

Q: What position do you hold now and what work does this involve?

“I work in advancement at Selkirk College, which is a community college that spans eight regions in the West Kootenay region of British Columbia. I work in all sorts of donor relations, at all levels of giving – annual giving, major giving, planned giving, and corporate sponsorship. It’s a really well-rounded position. It’s been one where I’ve definitely grown and have applied nearly every concept I learned in the MPNL program. […] It’s interesting because though I knew fundraising was an important part of non-profits, I hadn’t really explored the intricacies of it before. I ended up signing up for one of the fundraising electives in the program and I absolutely loved it because while you of course need some sort of financial background, since you’re managing a large number of funds and budgets, it also allows you to have a more creative marketing and communications lens. It was an interesting outcome because I didn’t go into the program thinking I’d go into fundraising.”

Q: How did the education you got at the school empower you through your career?

“When I started the Master’s, I applied for a contract with a local poverty initiative where I was looking to develop a program targeting poverty-vulnerable rural youth and teaching financial literacy skills to these youth. Because I started that contract while I was taking courses, like Policy and Program Evaluation, I went into it with a different mindset than I would have had I not taken the program and so I was able to think through some really clear logic models and take a more sophisticated approach to it. It ended up being a really successful program and the outcomes for the youth were really incredible. It created a financial literary curriculum that we’ll hopefully take and scale up in other rural communities. Without the MPNL program, I wouldn’t have had that idea of starting things on a pilot project and then thinking towards the future with the project, in terms of being able to scale them up and apply them in different circumstances. I was able to add to the body of knowledge of what’s driving poverty in rural communities and was able to measure the social impact of the program and I think it really helped in that circumstance.”

Q: What was the most memorable experience during your time at the School?

“I think the [most memorable experience was] the two-week institute in the summer where I met some really incredible women. Just tons of amazing conversations in the classroom but also over a glass of wine at dinner. The whole experience was incredible – the level of instruction during those institutes, the engagement of the class, and the quality of the guest speakers. I just felt like my mind expanded tenfold during those two weeks each time I went.”

Q: Do you have any advice for current or future students?

“There’s certainly opportunities for internships and other work experiences within the program and I would definitely take both of those. There are also interesting opportunities for traveling abroad and really taking advantage of a more robust research experience for the final capstone, and I think, in hindsight, I would’ve maybe taken more advantage of just diving a little bit more into research. It’s certainly available, you just have to take the initiative to do it.”