Certificate graduates make an impact in legislative offices

Three recent graduates who earned certificates in public policy from the La Follette School share their experiences working in legislative offices.

Paige Anderson

Portrait of Paige Anderson
Paige Anderson

Paige Anderson is currently the chief of staff to Wisconsin State Representative Kristina Shelton. Anderson’s favorite part of her job and her career in politics as a whole is getting to work with different staffers, constituents, and officials. “I’m a people person,” Anderson says.
She graduated with a certificate in public policy in 2020 and worked as an intern in the State Assembly as an undergrad. “I learned to really love and thrive in the speed and type of work being done here,” Anderson said. “It energized me to keep going and ‘be the change’ following graduation, which led me to my current role.”

Anderson continues to cross paths with several impactful people she met at La Follette. “I think I learned more in my La Follette classes than anywhere else about the gray areas in policy work,” she says. “There are very few opportunities in this work to see a bill, law, or policy as perfectly good or perfectly bad, and my coursework helped me to needle out the spaces in between.” Anderson encourages any student wanting to pursue a career like hers to never be afraid to ask to connect. “The worst thing someone can say to you is ‘no.’ Ask for the coffee meeting, introduce yourself to people you want to know, ask for opportunities like jobs, internships, shadowing; you never know how far you can get if you don’t try.” In the future, Anderson hopes to hold either a school board or other local level seat of office.

Joe Bachar

Certificate alum Joe Bachar poses for a photo with former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan
Joe Bachar (right) with former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (left)

Joe Bachar has always been interested in public policy and how it influences the world we live in. Bachar currently works for Congressman Mike Gallagher. He started out as a legislative correspondent and was recently promoted to director of operations. Bachar is particularly interested in natural resource policy issues and enjoys the fast-paced nature of his role. Bachar says that working on Capitol Hill is a great way to get exposure to a wide range of policy issues and government work. “Being so close to all the action you typically only hear about on the news has given me a new perspective of both politics and government work as a whole,” he says.

Bachar, who graduated with a certificate in public policy in 2022, says studying at the La Follette School allowed him to learn the history of U.S. public policy and become familiar with the major bills that are still evolving and changing to this day. “Knowing what legislation impacts the various areas of our society allows you to have informed discussions on a wide range of issue areas,” Bachar says. His most memorable experience from La Follette was his internship that allowed him to gain real-world experience and use his classroom knowledge to supplement the day-to-day responsibilities in his work. Bachar advises La Follette students to not be afraid to ask questions. “One of my favorite quotes from Confucius is, ‘The man who asks a question is a fool for a minute; the man who does not ask is a fool for life.’” Bachar hopes to continue working on the Hill to continue becoming well-versed in a range of policy issues and plans to work more specifically on natural resources either in a member office or for a committee in the future.

Tayler Palkowski

Tayler Palkowski was inspired to pursue legislative work after hearing stories from people all over Wisconsin about how certain policies, or the lack thereof, would hurt them. Palkowski had worked and interned on campaigns for a long time and wanted to put the values she had been working towards into practice and make an impact. She knew that working in the legislature was the best way to do so and graduated with a certificate in public policy in 2020 to start her career. Palkowski is now the executive assistant to the executive director and deputy executive director at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. She works closely with their senior leadership team. “I absolutely love being an assistant,” Palkowski says. “I never knew what power assistants had until I became one. This role gives me a direct look into the jobs of our senior leadership teams, and I get to learn from them every day while not having quite the same level of responsibilities.”

Palkowski says that La Follette’s certificate program helped her gain the technical aspects needed in a legislative office. She learned to write policy memos and how to think critically about how policy can solve real-world issues. Palkowski’s biggest takeaway from the La Follette School is the importance of networking. “Networking has helped me get all of my professional jobs and I’ve made it my mission to keep helping those around me achieve their goals and aspirations as well,” she says. Palkowski recommends that students take advantage of internship experiences in college. “Do a semester at the Capitol, do a semester on a campaign, maybe a nonprofit or state agency, too,” she says. “My collective experiences led me to all my roles post-graduation. You are also so lucky to have a chance to intern for presidential races this year — do it! Being a part of history in a tipping point state like Wisconsin is something most students only dream about elsewhere.” Palkowski says that the state has the best and most brilliant staff in the country and encourages students to take the opportunity to learn from them. She plans to keep working on state legislative campaigns until Democrats gain a majority in Wisconsin.

– Story by Clare Brogan

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