Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, March 3, 2017

Joshua Williams (MIPA '13)

Joshua Williams (MIPA '13)

Hometown
Madison, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in international relations, Boston University

As a Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) finalist, what federal agencies interest you most?
My hope is to find a position where I am doing applied research and can continue to be focused on my current specialization—which looks at the intersect of Japan/East Asia, technology, and politics. I think there are several agencies where I could accomplish this goal, even if it’s in the long run. I am currently considering possibilities at the State Department, the Library of Congress’ Congressional Research Service, Treasury, and others. However, I am trying to keep an open mind to possibilities.

What prompted you to seek a doctorate degree?
At the La Follette School, I discovered a love of quantitative research analysis and decided I wanted to take the skillset I developed to a higher level—pursuing a PhD seemed a reasonable approach to accomplishing this goal.

What sparked your interest in international policy and Japanese, in particular?
Before coming to La Follette, I lived in Japan for six years. I was looking for a way to remain connected to both Japan and the United States in a meaningful way while also advancing my career track.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences helped you with your PhD work?
La Follette courses provided me with an extremely solid foundation in applied research methods, which has allowed me to more quickly pursue my current research than might otherwise have been possible.

What was your most rewarding experience at the La Follette School?
My capstone project, which both pushed my research abilities and teamwork skills to new levels.

What was your most challenging experience at the La Follette School?
My capstone project, which ballooned to a project that was beyond the intent of even our capstone instructor and the federal agency we were working for.

Awards and honors
The most obvious is my pending doctorate degree in Japan Studies from the University of Washington; everything else falls under that, including several policy and leadership-oriented fellowships, a Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship for Japanese, and a letter of recognition for a concentration in social statistics.

Mentors and advisers
I would not be in my current PhD program if it were not for the advice and letters of recommendation from La Follette School faculty members, most notably Professor Emerita Melanie Manion. I also am receiving assistance with the PMF process from 2012 La Follette School graduate and PMF recipient Katherine Sydor.

Anything else?
I am a proud husband and father of a child born mere days after graduating from La Follette.

People would be surprised if they knew ...
Since graduating from La Follette, I have had the opportunity to interview numerous members of the Japanese Parliament (the equivalent of the U.S. Congress) for my research.