Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, October 23, 2017

Casey Hutchison, MIPA

Casey Hutchison Casey Hutchison

Hometown
Middleton, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in economics and German, University of Wisconsin–Madison

Expected graduation
May 2018

Why an MIPA?
I’ve always known that I wanted to work in government, and in my opinion, public affairs is the best way to make noticeable, lasting change. Political science and economics are great, but I want to be involved in the policies that actually affect people on a daily basis!

Summer internship
I worked for the U.S. State Department as an intern in the political section of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germanuy. Each day, I did something different, from researching current developments in the news to writing briefing memos for the Chargé d’Affaires’ meetings. We were constantly busy, meeting with the German Federal Foreign Office and other key players in German politics, and I was given the opportunity to attend many of the meetings that our diplomats held. There was barely a free moment!

What project best illustrates your summer internship?
My main project this summer was writing a cable about the role of women in German politics. We were in the middle of election season, so my department was putting together a series of cables reporting on how the election could affect the United States. Gender equality is a hot-button social issue in both Germany and the U.S., so I researched each of the six main parties and how they’re trying (or not) to integrate women into leadership positions.

What drew you to the La Follette School?
La Follette offers an accelerated program where undergraduates interested in public policy can start graduate courses during their senior year and finish both degrees in five years. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to participate in La Follette’s world-class program while saving a bit of money!

Career Goals
In the future, I’d like to work for the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
The La Follette School really focuses on the concrete skills you need to secure and succeed in a career. PA 800: Professional Development Workshop helped me secure my internship, and the other courses all provide fantastic training in areas such as statistics, economics, writing, and Stata software.

What advice would you give to prospective La Follette School students?
Focus on the quantitative skills rather than finding a specific policy area to study. If you have a good grasp of statistics and analysis, you have the freedom to work in any sector!

Most challenging experience at the La Follette School
As an accelerated student taking graduate and undergraduate courses at the same time, it was difficult to find a balance between the two worlds.

Most rewarding experience at the La Follette School
My internship at the State Department was an absolutely incredible experience, which I could not have gotten without the La Follette School.

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
Policy is definitely a more collaborative activity than I previously thought. Projects are almost always done in teams both at La Follette and in the real world, and no amount of knowledge can make up for a lack of people skills.

Were you familiar with the Wisconsin Idea before you came to La Follette and how have you practiced it through your classes, internships, or other activities?
Undergraduate courses at UW place a major emphasis on the Wisconsin Idea. Thanks to this philosophy, I see myself as more than a just student looking for a job but rather as someone who will use what I’ve learned here to benefit the state I love.

La Follette School Student Association involvement
My job for the LSSA board is graduation co-coordinator, which means that I plan our yearly ceremony at the state capitol!

Off-campus activities
I’m about to start working as a debate coach for Madison East High School. Joining the debate team in high school was absolutely essential in shaping my interest in policy, so I’m hoping to help a new generation of students find that same love for politics!