Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, October 12, 2017

Alumni, others connect with students during speed networking

Alumni, others connect with students during speed networking

More than two dozen alumni and other public policy professionals participated in a speed-networking event with first-year La Follette School students on Monday, October 9.

Speed-networking is a structured and fast-paced activity that allows students to meet and exchange information with alumni and other professionals in a short amount of time. All participants are encouraged to share business cards and schedule informational meetings.

“This event met even my grandest expectations, and I gleaned priceless information about how each career path is both unique and characterized by the combined power of passion and good work,” said Elizabeth Janeczko, a master of public affairs student.

“I thoroughly appreciated the structure and the pacing of the event. Talking to alumni with a current La Follette student was an delightful surprise,” Janeczko continued. “It eased the pressure of a one-on-one conversation, gave me some think time when I wasn't sure what to ask about next, and gave me the chance to hear more about how someone in my same position was internalizing our conversations.”

The event, organized by Senior Outreach Specialist Bridget Pirsch, is one aspect of the Professional Development Workshop course (PA 800), a requirement for all students. La Follette School Associate Director Hilary Shager (MPA ’05, PhD ’12) teaches the course.

“A master’s degree in public affairs opens up a wide variety of career possibilities,” said Shager. “This event is a great way for students to explore a lot of these possibilities in a short period of time. Students get to meet our wonderful alumni, and learn how they are using the skills they gained at La Follette across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.”

Before the speed-networking event, students create “elevator speeches” that help them introduce themselves. Their follow-up assignment is to conduct an informational interview with a person in their field of interest.

“I always enjoy catching up with our alumni and friends, and I appreciate their willingness to give back to the school and help our students launch their careers,” Shager said. “This event also is an important way for us to keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the public affairs field.”

This activity helps students learn about and explore a variety of public policy career options and practice networking. Students also have the opportunity to practice articulating their career goals and interests, said Shager.

Less than a year after graduating, David Boardman (MPA ’16) welcomed the opportunity to give back to his alma mater. “At this event three years ago, I networked with an alum who helped me network to get my job in the State Assembly, so I am excited to be back this year to make connections with students,” said Boardman, a legislative aide for State Rep. Joan Ballweg.

Beth Miller (MPA '16), coordinator the Ryan White CARE Act Grant and Early Intervention Program for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, also participated: "I was flattered to be asked to participate in the La Follette speed networking event," Miller said. "I remember how much I appreciated the advice on classes and job searches from alumni when I was a student in PA 800, and I enjoyed being able to offer a few tips to the current students. I had a great time hearing from the students about their backgrounds and policy interests as well."

The alumni and other professionals who volunteered their time and talents were:

  • Ruth Anderson (MPA, University of Illinois), University of Wisconsin System, associate vice president of administrative services
  • Richelle Andrae (MPA ’17), Wisconsin Council on Medical Education and Workforce, data analyst
  • Brian Bell (MPA ’10), Wisconsin Ethics Commission, administrator
  • Josh Bindl (MPA ’04), National CooperativeRx, chief executive officer
  • Jason Bittner, PMP, (MPA ’00), Applied Research Associates, principal and part owner
  • David Boardman (MPA ’16), Wisconsin Legislature, legislative aide to Re. Joan Ballweg
  • Sasha Bong (MIPA ’12), Wisconsin Department of Administration, policy and budget analyst
  • Allison Carlson (MPA ’05), Focus on Energy at APTIM, senior manager for evaluation and planning
  • Carolyn Clow (MPA ’12), Dane County, purchasing agent; trustee, Village of McFarland
  • Tamarine Cornelius (MA ’99), Kids Forward, research analyst
  • William (Bill) Cosh, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, agency spokesperson
  • Drew Curtis (MPA ’16), DVP-PRAXIS, higher education consultant
  • Emma Schumman Drilias (MPA ’16) Tom Hinds (MIPA ’09), Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, home visiting performance planner
  • Sierra Fischer (MPA ’15), National Council on Crime and Delinquency, researcher
  • Lindsay Garber (MPA ’16), County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, communications specialist
  • Adam Hartung (MPA ’11), Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, section chief, Bureau of Budget and Policy
  • Peggy Helm-Quest (Master of Health Administration, Public Health, University of South Carolina-Columbia ’96), Wisconsin Department of Health Services, health promotion consultant; Birth Defects Prevention and Surveillance Program, director
  • Sara Koliner (MPA ’14), Wisconsin Department of Health Services, budget and policy analyst
  • Kara Kratowicz (MS, Social Work), City of Madison, data projects coordinator
  • Jennie Maunnamalai (Mauer) (MPA ’08), Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Health Start collaboration director
  • Beth Miller (MPA ’17), Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Medicaid Services, budget and policy analyst
  • Noah Natzke (MPA ’12), Wisconsin Legislature Audit Bureau, program evaluator
  • Alex Straka (MIPA ’15), UW–Madison Law School, student
  • Andrew Turner (MPA ’08), UW–Madison Law School, legal research and writing faculty
  • John Vander Meer (MPA ’06), Wisconsin Health Care Association, executive director
  • H.J. Waukau (MIPA ’12), Wisconsin Medical Society, policy and population health specialist