To dispose of this right up front, yes, Jessica Tang ’16 has watched NBC's Parks and Recreation, and relates to it a bit.
She works at the Citywide Services Division at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation as a capital program coordinator. “It's a fun place to work, and we get a lot of different jobs moving," Tang says.
Learning from the professionals she works with is one of the things she likes most about her job. She helps manage improvement projects across the city’s 30,000 acres of parkland. A sociology major, Tang discovered an interest in urban planning and public spaces her first couple of years out of Hamilton.
First, she served a year with AmeriCorps as a housing and resident engagement coordinator for the Philadelphia Mayor's Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity. From there, she worked at Wave Hill, a public garden and cultural center in the Bronx. “And all of that kind of ties in to my interest in public space and urban design. That led me here to this position, where we quite literally change how the public space is used through all these construction projects,” Tang explains.
Whether she’s with a a project manager inspecting the roof of a field house or a landscape architect in a park figuring out how many square feet of asphalt a site will need, she feels like she’s making a tangible contribution to the quality of life of New Yorkers.
She enjoys learning about the nitty-gritty, operational details and organizing the massive amounts of data it takes to keep projects moving. All the work she did as a sociology major gathering, analyzing, and drawing conclusions from data comes in handy. Still, Tang has big-picture public planning in mind.
“I’m thinking about going to school for planning or for public administration. I’m not really sure yet. I’m doing some exploratory stuff,” Tang says. “That’s another thing that Hamilton really helped me develop — this desire to learn and just explore different fields and not be siloed in my work. Just being happy with learning about new things, even if it may not be directly relevant to what I’m doing.”