Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Students learn about career opportunities from alumni in D.C.

Students learn about career opportunities from alumni in D.C.

Twenty master’s degree students participated in the third La Follette in D.C. career development program Nov. 3 and 4, visiting potential employers, networking with alumni and friends, and learning about what it’s like to live and work in the nation’s capital.

“We had another incredibly successful trip,” said Associate Director Hilary Shager (MPA ’05, PhD ’12). “These outside-the-classroom opportunities are crucial to our students’ professional success. We owe a debt of gratitude to the dozens of amazing alumni and friends who took time out of their busy lives to speak with our students.”

In addition to participating in career-specific discussions, the students networked with almost 60 people of all ages and from various policy areas during a reception Thursday evening at Clyde’s of Gallery Place. Mark Hadley (MA ’97), deputy director of the Congressional Budget Office, welcomed everyone and shared a bit about his career in federal government.

La Follette School alumni and friends also provide financial support for the career development program and reception, which give students the opportunity to get a glimpse of the high-impact work happening in the nation’s capital and network with practitioners.

Students began the two-day program at Grant Thornton in Alexandria, Virginia, where they discussed consulting careers with senior partner Phil Kangas, recruiting associate Michele Krauss, Tim Williams (MPA ’16), Katharine Austin (MPA, MPH ’15), and Lindsay Garber (MPA ’16).

They then attended the 2016 Paul Offner Lecture at the Urban Institute. Gene Steurele (MA ’72, MS ’73), a fellow at the Urban Institute, participated on the panel with Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institute. Nisha Patel, executive director of the U.S. Partnership on Mobility from Poverty at the Urban Institute moderated the discussion Opportunities for Children: Advice for the New Administration.

The students’ next stops were at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), where they learned about career opportunities in the federal government. “It was so great to see everyone,” said Alexis MacDonald (MPA ’08), a senior analyst at the GAO. “I always enjoy opportunities to share my excitement for public service with La Follette School students.”

At GAO, students also met with Jenny Grover (MA ’91), Joe Thompson (MPA ’03), Liz Hartjes (MIPA ’12), Michele Duren (MIPA ’15), Ben Emmel (MPA ’15), Travis Schwartz (MPA ’15), and Jessica Sabin Ard (MPA ’16)

Participating via video conferencing were Eric Hudson (MPA ’04) and Kate Nast Jones (MPA ’08) from GAO’s Chicago office; Chris Murray (MPA ’01), Boston; and Hilary Murrish Benedict (MPA ’02) and Kevin Remondini (who received his master’s degree in Latin American, Caribbean & Iberian Studies from UW-Madison in 2007), Denver.

The following day, the students visited the U.S. Institute of Peace, where Director of Global Policy Linwood Ham and Program Officer Megan Chabalowski discussed their work on informing U.S. policy, particularly around the issue of country fragility. The U.S. Institute of Peace is a publicly funded national institution that provides education, training, research, and information services to promote international peace and the resolution of conflicts among nations and people.

Back at Clyde’s, Daniel Speckhard (MA ’83), president and chief executive officer of Lutheran World Relief, gave a keynote presentation and students enjoyed lunch and conversation with Patrick Fuchs (MPA ’11), Katherine Sydor (MPA ’12), Farha Tahir (MIPA ’10), and Amanda Wilmarth (MIPA ’14). Fuchs works for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Sydor, Education Branch, U.S. Office of Management and Budget; Fahir, Southern and East Africa, National Democratic Institute; and Wilmarth, Export Import Bank of the United States.

“My goal is to live in D.C., and it was a great experience to be exposed to so many different opportunities,” said Chris Meyers, a first-year student in the Master of Public Affairs program. “It was excellent to meet and touch base with alumni outside of the Madison area who I look forward to joining as a D.C. Bob one day.”

Students also had the opportunity to participate in a U.S. Treasury tour arranged by Austin Frerick (MPA ’14).