January 1, 2000 - Florida State University: Chad RPCV Christopher "Kip" Harkness wins 1998 AICP Outstanding Student Award

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Chad: Peace Corps Chad : The Peace Corps in Chad: January 1, 2000 - Florida State University: Chad RPCV Christopher "Kip" Harkness wins 1998 AICP Outstanding Student Award

By Admin1 (admin) on Sunday, March 23, 2003 - 2:02 pm: Edit Post

Chad RPCV Christopher "Kip" Harkness wins 1998 AICP Outstanding Student Award

Chad RPCV Christopher "Kip" Harkness wins 1998 AICP Outstanding Student Award

Christopher "Kip" Harkness
MSP 1998, Planning for Developing Areas
1998 AICP Outstanding Student Award Winner

On October 7, Christopher "Kip" Harkness was the featured speaker for the Department’s Professional Topics Seminar. Kip graduated from the DURP Master’s program in 1998 and is currently working in the City Manager’s Office of San Jose, California. He shared with current DURP students his experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer and his reflections on professional, post-graduate life.

Before enrolling in DURP, Kip served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the central African nation of Chad. He worked with water and sanitation services in a small village before relocating to the capital city of N’djamena. There, he assisted a local farmers’ cooperative in their development of a single entry bookkeeping system to track their income and expenditures. Later on, this system was adapted to account for 90% of the fresh fruit and vegetable market in N’djamena. Kip cited this as an example of how seemingly small changes can have a significant impact on local operations because they empower people—and empowerment can have multiplicative effects.

Kip’s experience with the Peace Corps extends beyond his volunteer service. He has also been an intern, volunteer trainer and contractor with the Peace Corps. Kip said that the Peace Corps has been his "best resume-builder." His experience in the Peace Corps taught him that "the way people make decisions is as much personal as it is technical." The politics and processes of decision-making are lessons he has learned on the job and are essential knowledge for any planning practitioner. Kip remarked that "good planning may be a 500 page report, but good decision-making is often a 3 page memo." He urged students to bridge the gap between planning and decision-making through internships, field experience, or their first professional planning job.

Kip is currently the "Senior Organizational Advancement Specialist" in the City Manager’s Office of San Jose, California. San Jose is a city of 900,000 people in the heart of Silicon Valley. The city management bureaucracy comprises 6,500 employees in over 20 departments. Kip plays a key role in guiding the city through an evaluative process of reconciling "where the city is with where it should be." Because of the unique circumstances and dynamics of San Jose—it is the largest high-tech economy in the world—Kip’s job often poses exceptional challenges. But, he said that his job in San Jose is not completely unlike his experience in the Peace Corps, because in both instances the issue is changing the way people think and how they approach their jobs.

Kip also offered graduate planning students advice on entering the professional workforce. He urged students to learn as much as they can about GIS, because he predicts that in ten years, it will be as commonplace and indispensable as the spreadsheet. Kip also stressed the difference between a job offer and a salary negotiation. He advised that students "know what they are worth" when looking for jobs and not to "undersell" their accomplishments and abilities. He also suggested that students strive to become "reflective practitioners" once they enter the professional workforce. After immersion in work and field experience, it helps to "dry off" and reflect on that experience and what can be learned from it.

Kip has offered to serve as a contact for prospective and current students. If you have any questions about DURP, the Peace Corps or planning in general, you may e-mail him at christopher.harkness@ci.sj.ca.us.

Some postings on Peace Corps Online are provided to the individual members of this group without permission of the copyright owner for the non-profit purposes of criticism, comment, education, scholarship, and research under the "Fair Use" provisions of U.S. Government copyright laws and they may not be distributed further without permission of the copyright owner. Peace Corps Online does not vouch for the accuracy of the content of the postings, which is the sole responsibility of the copyright holder.

Story Source: Florida State University

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Chad; City Planning



Add a Message

This is a public posting area. Enter your username and password if you have an account. Otherwise, enter your full name as your username and leave the password blank. Your e-mail address is optional.