Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Chicago alumni, others talk about career opportunities during student visits

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Twenty-one La Follette School students learned from alumni and other policy professionals during the La Follette in Chicago career development program in November 2017. During the two-day program, students visited four organizations, participated in two panel discussions, and attended a networking reception with alumni, faculty, and staff.

“La Follette in Chicago was a wonderful opportunity to learn about employers, fields (such as criminal justice reform), and jobs that may be of interest to La Follette School students,” said Lily Schultze, a first-year master of public affairs student interested in health equity, specifically the intersection of urban planning and public health.

La Follette School alumni organized and led sessions throughout the Chicago visit, starting with four master of public affairs (MPA) alumni who spoke about their work at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Kate Amoroso (2007), Eric Hudson (2004), Kate Nast Jones (2008), and Matthew Rosenberg (2003) shared their experiences at the nonpartisan Congressional agency, including how their La Follette School training prepared them for their work. Paul Schmidt, assistant director in the Financial Markets and Community Investment Team, welcomed the students and led the discussion.

“Working in groups was one of the most important things the La Follette School gave me,” said Amoroso, reassuring students that “you don’t have to love stats to work at GAO.”

A senior analyst on the Health Care Team, Amoroso is one of six La Follette School alumni in the GAO’s Chicago field office. Jones also is a senior analyst on the Health Care Team, while Hudson and Rosenberg both are senior analysts on the physical Infrastructure Team.

Three alumni also joined the students for lunch and a career discussion at The Berghoff Restaurant. Dan Leopold (MIPA ’03), Michaela Meckel (MIPA ’14), and Ciara Mentzer, (MPA ’12) offered students a wide range of suggestions for their job searches. Among them: be open to new possibilities, take classes outside of the La Follette School, and have an array of contacts who can help put you on the right path.

Leopold is chief intelligence officer for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago, Meckel is director of performance and analytics at Children’s Home + Aid, and Mentzer is national communications manager for Educators for Excellence.

Students then headed to the American Institutes for Research (AIR), where they spoke with Ryan Eisner (MPA ’13), Brianne Monahan (MPA ’15), and Max Pardo (MPA ’17) about their work. AIR is one of the world's largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations.

Alumnus Nate Inglis Steinfeld (JD and MPA ’12) also organized a panel discussion on criminal justice policy issues and implementation in Chicago. Inglis-Steinfeld is research director for the Illinois Sentencing Policy Advisory Council. Joining him were Katie Hill, director of policy, research and development at the Cook County State's Attorney's Office; Ali Abid, program coordinator for the Cook County Justice Advisory Council; and Lindsey LaPointe, senior project manager for justice reform at BPI, a public interest law and policy center.

On the second day, students visited the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the Consulate General of Canada Office.

Rachael Mizuno, Brittany McGhee, Craig Kafura, and Audra Berger gave an overview of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and its Next Generation team. Kafura, a research associate, also shared the nonprofit organization’s public opinion poll.

At the Canadian Consulate, Consul General John Cruickshank welcomed the students before Consul Monica Robson, Political and Media Relations Officer Susan Evans, and Public Affairs Officer Colleen Duke provided details about their careers.

“The visit to Chicago was exciting, and offered us a chance to hear from recent La Follette grads working in a variety of fields,” said Matt Burr, a second-year master of international public affairs student. “It's great to know that there's a network of La Follette people in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, and D.C. – that makes those cities more appealing to me.”