Through her internship experience with the governmental aspect of policymaking, Monica Wedgewood came to realize her interest in state policy and the legislative process.
Wedgewood interned with a state representative and the governor's office during her first year at La Follette. "I found I like the policy aspect of working in the office of an elected official," she says.
Wedgewood came to La Follette after spending a year at a Madison middle school through AmeriCorps. She collaborated with people from nonprofit organizations, including the United Way of Dane County, Centro Hispano and the Urban League as she recruited and coordinated volunteers for a tutoring program. "When I applied to La Follette, I was thinking about social policy," Wedgewood says, "but within my first year I became much more interested in state policy and the legislative process."
Wedgewood spent her first year at La Follette as an intern with Wisconsin Assembly member Gary Hebl and says she appreciated on-the-job advice and support from his aide, 2007 alum Kate Battiato. Wedgewood wrote policy memos on bills, conducted research, met with constituents and interest group representatives, and replied to constituent correspondence. "I put together a bill from the ground up and found I loved the process, from the initial idea for the bill to research to checking with state agencies and constituents and then drafting the bill," she says. "I wrote policy memos and outlined recommended actions. My experience in the real world mirrored my class work."
For her summer internship, Wedgewood moved over to the Legislative Policy Office in the Office of the Governor. She wrote policy briefs for state and national events, researched state-level polices and their effects, prepared materials for the governor's tours and appearance, and replied to correspondence. Again, the experience reinforced her desire to participate in public affairs at a structural level. "I enjoy the research and writing, the communication and the ideas and talking with people," says Wedgewood, who is pursuing a Master of Public Affairs degree.
She applies those skills to her job as a program assistant with the Center for State Innovation at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. The center facilitates the sharing of ideas among executives of state governments — governors, agency secretaries and their staff. The center holds webinars, conferences and briefings to provide forums to look at policy issues, such as budgets and pensions. "It is exciting to be a part of that exchange," Wedgewood says, "when executive staff in Wyoming can talk about a successful program that someone in another state might not have otherwise heard about. I enjoy this broad application of public affairs."
"The La Follette School is a great door-opener," Wedgewood says. "If you do the legwork and have La Follette on your résumé, you can get great experience and make good contacts."