Alumni Spotlight: Milla Jones

Photo Credit: Alumni Spotlight Milla Jones
Mon, 02/13/2023 - 12:20

Major: Global Studies

MinorsAsian Studies, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, and Political Science
Graduation Year: 2017

What were some of you favorite memories of being at UNL and majoring in Global Studies?
Speaking with like-minded individuals in GLST and having opportunities to travel and learn about different cultures.

What was your on and off campus involvement?
I attended a year long study abroad at the University of Helsinki in Finland, spent a week in Belize learning about political history, and 3 weeks in India learning about public health, microfinance, among other regional specific topics. During my senior year, I volunteered for Friends of Refugees and Elliott Elementary School to tutor refugees and 3rd grade ELL students in English. On top of full time courses, I held 3 jobs, two on campus and one off campus – not for the faint of heart! I attended an array of events and activities at the JGMC throughout my time at UNL

What were some of your favorite classes or professors you got a chance to work with?
To this day, my favorite class is Anthropology 101 (for WHT Scholars) with Dr. Babchuck. He has such a vast knowledge of anthropology and indigenous cultures that I knew I was learning from an expert in the field. His class got me interested in studying about Neanderthals and the gene FOXP2 that is part of language in humans. This interest helped me find a course while in Finland and to learn about the discovery of Neanderthal traces in midwestern Finland. So fascinating! Sadly, I don’t think Dr. Babchuck remembers me, but he definitely left an impression on me!

What have you been up to since graduation?
Since graduation, I attended and graduated from the Centre for East Asian Studies Master’s Degree Program in Turku, Finland. While writing my Master’s Thesis, my thesis supervisor provided me a lot of feedback and critique – one of which was about my writing style being more of a policy writer’s (I was quite hurt by this at the time), but turns out, she was right and now I am working for Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) within the Division of Medicaid and Long-Term Care as a Business Analyst and working heavily in and around Medicaid policy, both on the federal and state sides. Our Strategic Initiatives Team (formerly Demonstration Waivers, then Program Initiatives – we’ve gone through a few rebrands since I joined as an OG) works closely with executive leadership to help with tracking division initiatives and make sure each project lines up with federal mandates and division wide goals.

What is your advice for current global studies majors who aren’t quite sure what to do after they graduate?
Finding your niche job takes time and definitely will not be the first job you land! Right after graduating from my Master’s program and moving back to Lincoln, I worked at Nelnet for 4 months, until I landed a job as a Social Services Worker Trainee with DHHS MLTC. I loved this job, but working on the front line was not my passion, so I began to look for policy related roles within the agency. In August 2020, I was offered the DHHS Program Specialist position on the Demonstration Waivers Team, newly implemented and I became one of the original 3 of the unit. This position became my passion, but with the changes in the needs of the agency, our unit evolved, my administrator was promoted to Deputy Director, and new possibilities arose with the onboarding of a new administrator who encouraged me to apply for the IT Business Systems Analyst position under her that we can move to our unit to help with stratification. Now, I am doing what I love, but with more responsibilities and involvement on the project management side of our unit. Our unit has so many possible ways of growing in the coming months and years, I have a feeling I will be able to promote to management within the next year.

I learned early on that finding a new position within the agency was much easier while already employed, which is one of the biggest pieces of advice I can give. Know where you want to work? Find an “in” through any job and learn as much as you can – this will be helpful in finding more about the employer and where you see yourself in the next few years.