Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Saturday, March 27, 2021

Lauri Luosta, MIPA

Luosta LauriContact Lauri

Hometown
Helsinki, Finland

Undergraduate education
Bachelor's degree in political science (international relations focus) and global Studies (global governance and Europe focus), minor in economics, Winona State University, 2019

Professional/research interests
Broadly interested in economic development, international development, health and environment, poverty alleviation, housing, consumer behavior, and family economics

Achievements
Magna Cum Laude honors, Outstanding Student Leader Award, and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society at Winona State University

Expected graduation date
May 2021

Why a MIPA?
I knew I would want to continue my education past my bachelor’s degree. The kind of work I want to do in the future requires higher education, and I enjoy studying so the MIPA program was perfect for me. The La Follette School, in particular, was a great fit. At the time, I was most interested in global studies, political science, and economics. I managed to take classes in all these topics here as a MIPA student.

Why the La Follette School?
UW–Madison is a prestigious school, and I had visited Madison before starting at the La Follette School. I love the city, and the location was perfect for me. Also, there are plenty of assistantships at UW–Madison which was important for me, and I was lucky enough to receive a teaching assistantship my first semester.

Career goals
I want to be a researcher, and I think the La Follette School equipped me with great research skills. After graduation, I’m continuing in a PhD program (Consumer Behavior and Family Economics) at UW–Madison.

How has the La Follette School set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
I knew I wanted to pursue a PhD during my first year at the La Follette School. Because the program allows students to pick a diverse set of courses, I took courses that helped me in my PhD application process such as math, economics, R for social sciences, etc. Also, La Follette School professors and faculty have provided me with advice, information, and letters of recommendations. This helped me to achieve my goals, and I learned a lot in the process.

Assistantship
I had teaching assistant positions for three semesters. During the first two, I taught a Swedish language course. I found a position by emailing all departments of the schools that I may be qualified to work for. Luckily, I know Swedish, the Languages department was looking for TAs. My third semester, I worked as a TA for a Folklore Studies course. I found the course because it was taught by the same department as Swedish language. There are many assistantship opportunities at UW–Madison.

Summer internship
I applied for plenty, but unfortunately, I did not get hired. Some internship opportunities also were cancelled due to COVID. I interviewed with international development organizations and noticed that they seemed to really appreciate program evaluation skills, so I definitely recommend taking the La Follette School’s Program Evaluation (PA 871) course (or similar courses) as soon as possible if you’re interested in international development.

Client-based projects
I have done work for real-world clients in my Cost-Benefit Analysis and my Workshop courses. In Cost-Benefit Analysis (PA 881), our team conducted a cost-benefit analysis for the World Bank about a tree-planting project in Burkina Faso. It was a very exciting and interesting project. My Workshop (PA 869) group is evaluating a ship emission reduction project by Global Environment Facility, a United Nations-affiliated organization.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
I recommend choosing your courses carefully and asking for plenty of advice from faculty, alumni, etc. You may realize you could use certain kinds of skills for your future career, and if you learn about them early, you can pick appropriate courses. You have only four semesters at the La Follette School, so every course counts.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
Starting my first year of graduate school with a teaching assistantship was challenging. Both were new experiences for me, so it took some time to get used to the workload. By the end of the first semester, it got much “easier” because I figured out how to manage my time better and how to navigate graduate school and teaching.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
I have made a lot of good friends at the La Follette School. In general, I have really enjoyed my personal and professional life in Madison and will always remember it fondly.

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
I have developed a clear understanding on how good public policy is designed and executed.

Wisconsin Idea
I was not familiar with the Wisconsin Idea before attending the La Follette School; however, I believe it is a good goal to aim for and that the UW System and the La Follette School truly try to extend the benefits of higher education to every corner of Wisconsin, and the world.

Before the La Follette School
I was an undergraduate student in Minnesota.

Anything else?
I love Madison, and I hope to stay here for as long as I have good opportunities here. My fiancé, and our dog, and I are looking for a house here. I am happy here, and Madison is honestly a great place to live. I would recommend it to anyone.

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
Ran into the Dalai Lama when I was a young child. I literally bumped into him running around the Amsterdam airport. My mother quickly ran after me and apologized to him and his security. Apparently, he just smiled and nodded.