Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, April 16, 2018

Sam Alhadeff, MIPA

Sam Alhadeff, MIPA

Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Undergraduate education
Bachelor's degrees in political science (honors) and economics, and leadership certificate, UW-Madison, 2017

Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi

Expected graduation
May 2018

Why a MIPA?
In my undergrad, I started a student organization called the Alexander Hamilton Society dedicated to promoting the discussion of foreign, economic, and national security policy. I had known I was interested in politics, but previously, I had not invested enough time into learning about either domestic or international policy. I realized my love for both once I began learning more about the world. 

Why the La Follette School?
I had known about the reputation of La Follette’s quality for a long time before applying. My dad brought it up to me when I came to Madison as an undergrad. The biggest draw for me, though, was the accelerated program and the possibility to get a great degree in one extra year

Career goals
I am interested in wide array of jobs, but my number one career goal is to run for elected office one day, ideally as high up in the government as I can go to affect the most change I can.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
My goal is to be a policymaker, and to succeed, I need to expose myself to all angles of the process and all knowledge I would need for that role. The classes I have taken in La Follette have exposed me to each step of the policymaking process from conception to implementation. In the near term, I hope to use these skills, especially cost-benefit analysis, to get my first job and excel. In the long term, the depth of knowledge I have about each step in the process will make me a much better policymaker.

Teaching assistantship
I am a teaching assistant in the School of Social Work teaching research methods. I teach three discussion sections per week, grade papers, and hold office hours. I applied for the position for a number of reasons, primary among which were my passion for teaching and my need to pay for school. I could have applied to a lot of graduate/project assistantships, but I knew my skills for teaching and leadership would help me excel as a TA. I have always enjoyed helping people learn, so I thought this would be a fun way to improve. Last fall, I was a TA in Political Science teaching political theory.

Summer internship
I was a policy intern for JA Green and Company in DC, a boutique government affairs firm.

Primary job responsibilities
I tracked legislation relevant to the defense acquisitions process, wrote internal memos, drafted talking points, prepared slides and deliverables for clients, and managed the firm’s social media profile.

Sample project 
While I was there, the House Armed Services Committee held the full committee mark-up for the National Defense Authorization Act. The day of the mark-up, I stayed late at the office (until 1 am) to watch the mark-up on C-SPAN, take notes, and draft talking points for my boss’s appearance on Sirius XM the next day. I spent the remainder of the week drafting a couple of deliverables for the company’s clients detailing the amount of money they received in the mark-up.

What experiences and skills helped you get the internship?
Networking. I originally got an internship based on my experience with cost-benefit analysis, but I did not get security clearance in time to keep the internship. Luckily, my uncle had a connection at the firm who was fortuitously looking for an intern at the same time. He put in a good word for me to get an internship on such short notice.

Coursework for real clients
In Cost-Benefit Analysis (PA 881), I ran a CBA on the potential for an organic certification program on a Fijian island. It was really cool to work on a project that will potentially impact real people’s lives and real outcomes for people who could benefit immensely from the potential of more money resulting from an organic certification program. I also enjoyed the fact that one of the clients worked with the founder of Fiji water.

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
The people at La Follette really make a difference. Each student I have met at this school exudes a level of friendship and willingness to help that you would be hard pressed to find at other schools, especially grad programs. La Follette captures everything amazing about UW-Madison with the added benefit of an exceptional policy school based in a state capital.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
The workload is a lot higher than my undergraduate courses. I am still adjusting to the level of expectations for success in the school.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
When I was going through summer internship applications, one of my interviews surrounded entirely around my experience with cost-benefit analysis. It was really rewarding to be able to confidently answer each of her questions thanks to my La Follette coursework. My knowledge of cost-benefit analysis eventually resulted in me receiving an internship offer from that government agency (which I was unable to accept for other reasons).

How has the La Follette School changed the way you think about public policy?
Up until taking some of the higher-level policy analysis courses at La Follette, I thought about politics at a more basic level, the type of analysis you have in conversation with friends. After a year in the program, I have learned to think through each step of the policymaking process and appreciate all of the outcomes a policy change might have.

Volunteer activities
Over the course of my time here at Wisconsin, I have been a peer buddy in Best Buddies, where I spent time hanging out with person with a mental disability, and I volunteer weekly answering phones for the Family Court Clinic. I also occasionally mentor aspiring first-generation college students through the college application process, editing essays and helping prepare them for interviews. On campus, I am editor-in-chief of the Wisconsin International Review, a student-run international relations and foreign policy magazine I founded, and am president emeritus of the Alexander Hamilton Society, a student organization that hosts events on foreign policy, which I also founded.

Anything else?
Just like my political interests, I am interested in everything under the sun. All types of music, activities, sports, you name it. My favorite book is Tale of Two Cities, but my favorite book series is A Series of Unfortunate Events. I love rooting for Wisconsin athletics and never miss a football or a basketball game. My favorite sport to play is soccer. Whenever I get to chance, I am obsessed with stand-up comedy, both live and recorded. My favorite television show is Scrubs. 

People would be surprised if they knew that I …
scored a touchdown on Melvin Gordon (former UW player and top-ranked running back for the Los Angeles Chargers). I once played in a charity flag football tournament, and one of the teams was filled with UW football players. We were losing 2-0 with time running out, so we threw a Hail Mary. During the play, Melvin Gordon was coming down with the ball, and I stripped it out of his hands in the end zone for a touchdown.