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Passion & Dedication: Inside a Presidential Management Fellow’s Development

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After managing a 230-member team to supervise five Disneyland restaurants and completing his Master of Public Administration from USC, Bryce Steeves is taking yet another noticeable step in his career. He has been selected for the most prestigious fellowship available in leadership development for advanced degree candidates.

In the fall of 2022, he’ll officially become a Presidential Management Fellow. The two-year program involves a paid role at a U.S. government agency, which often converts into a managerial or senior-level position.

How did he get here? His career and educational decisions go hand-in-hand, shedding light on his trajectory as a leader.

A Passion for Research and Nonprofits

Steeves learned about the program at USC through his sister, who shares his interest in helping others.

“What originally drew me to the program was my interest in nonprofit work,” he said. “I volunteer at a nonprofit in Orange County that provides services to children with disabilities, whether it’s physical therapy, occupational therapy or what they call respite, which is when an individual goes in and takes care of the child so maybe the parents can go out and do shopping or just have a free night.”

That was put on hold because the nonprofit was closed in the pandemic. But as he transitioned into the master’s program, he developed his passion for research.

“When I got into the program, the ability and the resources that I was provided with through the program were amazing,” Steeves said. “It really helped me build my research skills tremendously. And one of the biggest takeaways for me was my ability to kind of really dig down and find those very niche resources, whether studies or journals, through USC. So their partnerships with companies, that space, really was beneficial to me, and it really helped me out.”

A standout experience relating to research took place in a capstone course team project about a county in Oregon.

“I really loved that project because it was a whole semester long project, so we really got to delve deep into the issues that they were looking into about equity, which is kind of a hot topic right now,” Steeves said. “So there was a lot of information that we used and many people that we talked to that provided some great information and ideas we could implement in our project, which was really fascinating.”

Experiencing Personal and Professional Growth

Two things have left a resounding mark on Steeves in a way that encompasses both his career and overall life. The first took place in one of his favorite courses: organizational behavior.

“It really kind of made me step back a little bit and reevaluate how I communicate with my fellow employees and those under me,” Steeves said. “And the things I learned in that class reinforced my ideas of where I need to be and what I need to do in the future to mentor others and be able to help others grow — not only myself. So that’s always stuck with me, even after a year away from it. It opened my eyes to different ways of communicating with people in ways that I had never thought of before.”

The other enduring lesson took place at the very start of the program. The pandemic was in full swing and his workplace at Disney had shut down.

“I kind of realized that, although it was a tough time, you can make the most out of it if you really put your mind to it. So I was really surprised at how dedicated I was to my academic work as opposed to myself in my undergraduate program.”

It has become something that the soon-to-be Presidential Management Fellow uses to inspire and motivate others.

“That’s what I tell everyone when they’re kind of debating on whether to go back to school and they’re a little bit older and they’ve been out of school a bit longer,” Steeves said. “I always tell them, ‘You know what, just try it. You’re going to be surprised at how much you’ve grown as a person and how motivated you are to learn.’”

You can learn about the Master of Public Administration online program — ranked No. 3 in the country for public affairs (U.S. News & World Report) — or connect with us now.

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