Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Thursday, March 4, 2021

Riley Fink, MPA, BESR certificate

Riley Fink, MPA, BESR certificate

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Hometown
Wausau, WI

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in politics / law & society, Drake University, 2019

Professional/research interests
Water policy

Why an MPA?
An MPA seemed like a great compliment my undergraduate studies, one that would help me to learn more about domestic work in the public sector.

Why the La Follette School?
I love Madison, so the location was definitely a draw, as well as the excellent work that was being done by the faculty.

Career goals?
I’d like to work in state government, possibly somewhere like the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Graduate assistantship
I’ve been an Online Learning Graduate Assistant with Learning Support Services in the College of Letters & Science since I started in fall 2019. This has been an incredible experience, because it has not only taught me a great deal about the backend of course development, but it has allowed me to meet and work with many of the University’s professors in a variety of disciplines.

Client-based projects
PA 878: Public Management provides a great opportunity to work with a client of your choice on a real-world project. You’re put in more of a consulting role with this particular project, so be warned. The La Follette School’s Workshop (PA 869)  capstone course is entirely dedicated to working with clients and is more evaluative. With several of my peers, I worked alongside the Public Service Commission’s broadband office to study the effects of its grant program.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Take classes outside your wheelhouse and mingle with people in different disciplines.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
Probably learning different styles of writing for things like policy memos and such.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
Having access to the great resources and facilities of UW–Madison (albeit somewhat limited during the pandemic) and getting to meet so many talented new friends and faculty.

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
If I wasn’t convinced before enrolling that everything is political and that policy is all-encompassing, then I sure am now.

The Wisconsin Idea
I was familiar with it, and the work at the La Follette School really connects you to a lot of community members, especially through projects with external clients.