Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, April 8, 2019

Nikolai Kapustin, MIPA

Nikolai Kapustin Nikolai Kapustin

Bristol, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in politics, Princeton University, 2013

Professional/research interests
International trade, economics, public management

Recipient of the US Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship (FLAS) in Indonesian, La Follette School’s La Follette Fellowship & La Follette Scholarship, and the Institute for Regional and International Studies’ 2017 International Research and Training Grant for Incoming Graduate Students

Expected graduation
May 2019

Why a MIPA?
After graduating college, I worked for a year at a nonprofit organization in Timor-Leste and then for three years in in the Centre for International and Professional Experiences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. While my work at Yale-NUS was very fulfilling, I felt I wanted to return to, and advance my career in, the international policy world. I searched around and decided the La Follette School was the best option for me.

Why the La Follette School?
Faculty expertise was one of the first things I looked at when applying to schools, and the La Follette School far exceeded my expectations. I especially liked the wide breadth of expertise among the internationally focused faculty. This, coupled with its location in my home state, drew me to the school.

Project assistantship
I am a project assistant for Professor Menzie Chinn, former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers. I was drawn to this position because of my strong interest in Professor Chinn’s research in international trade. We are doing research on the topic of elasticity of demand for US imports and exports.

Summer internship
As a research associate intern, I worked on four main projects at the American Institutes for Research in Chicago. Each project was vastly different and required different inputs on my part. A common theme among the projects was gathering and cleaning data in Stata and using interviews to determine if key program metrics had been met.

What experiences and skills helped you get the internship?
A key skill for this internship was Stata, which I’m grateful the La Follette School honed ahead of time. They also were interested in my experiences working in higher education prior to coming to La Follette.

What did you do before enrolling at the La Follette School?
After graduating college, I received a Princeton in Asia fellowship to work at Search for Common Ground (an international nongovernmental organization focused on promoting peaceful conflict resolution measures) in Dili, Timor-Leste. Following this, I worked in the Centre for International and Professional Experiences at Yale-NUS College in Singapore. Both experiences proved invaluable in my personal and professional development, and I’m grateful to be able to draw upon my experiences in these positions during my La Follette classes.

La Follette School Student Association
I am LSSA’s graduation coordinator. My main duty is to plan the graduation ceremony for my cohort of classmates. Tasks include finding space for the ceremony and reception, finding a speaker, arranging the ceremony, and training next year’s LSSA graduation coordinator.

Volunteer activities
Because I am taking a yearlong course on nonprofit board leadership development, I serve on the Board of Directors for the Madison Children’s Museum. This has been a truly amazing experience, and I have learned so much about board leadership and the phenomenal work of the Madison Children’s Museum. Anyone who hasn’t visited the museum, I highly recommend you do so.