Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Monday, April 15, 2019

William Wallo, MIPA

William Wallo William Wallo

Eau Claire, Wisconsin

Undergraduate education
Bachelor’s degree in accounting and economics, Marquette University, 2014

Professional/research interests
Poverty, inequality, and income security; tax & regulatory policy; financial markets and international financial institutions

Expected graduation date
May 2019

Why a MIPA?
Public policy and the study of economic, social, and political issues have been passions of mine for a long time. After graduating from Marquette University and beginning a career in the private sector, I began to wonder if it was possible to turn my passion into a viable and sustainable career. I discovered the La Follette School and found that this program was a great opportunity for me to do just that.

Why the La Follette School?
I had heard a lot of great things about the program – specifically about the faculty and the research opportunities available. The ability to stay close to family while simultaneously doing pursuing my research interests made La Follette an easy choice.

Career goals
I have applied to several programs to pursue my PhD in Public Policy. I want to continue pursuing research in my areas of interest, particularly wealth and income inequality. Alternatively, I would like to work in state or local government in a policy analyst or policy advisor capacity.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
Every course that I have taken at the La Follette School has either improved my quantitative skills or broadened my knowledge of a specific policy area. Furthermore, the client-based project aspect of many courses has helped me develop better communication, time management, and team-working skills.

Project assistantship
I am a project assistant for Professor Mark Copelovitch. I have assisted on research related to populism, nationalism, and partisan ideology in international financial institutions.

Summer internship
I was a policy analyst at the Department of Employee Trust Funds in Madison, Wisconsin, and I primarily worked on three projects: (1) benchmarking the department’s administrative performance to peer organizations in the US and Canada; (2) pooling information from the various departments within the agency to create the FY19 operating budget, which was presented to the Secretary’s Office; (3) working with the State Budget Office to create ETF’s 2019-21 biennial budget request.

Client-based course projects
I have had the opportunity to work on three client projects during my time at La Follette. In spring 2018, I worked on a team project for the Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the Public Management course (PA 878). We developed solutions for addressing the issues of administrative capacity in Tribally Designated Housing Entities (TDHEs) in the administration of federal funding for low-income housing provided as a part of the Indian Housing Block Grant (IHBG). During fall 2018, I worked on a team project for the World Bank as a part of the Cost-Benefit Analysis course (PA 881). For this project, we studied the ability of nonmonetary incentives to improve neighborhood cleanliness and increase the effectiveness of stormwater management in the Dakar region of Senegal. Finally, for the capstone project, I am working with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), studying child well-being and material deprivation in the United States and evaluating potential policy solutions.

Advice to prospective La Follette School students
Don’t feel the need to define your area of policy focus within your first semester, or even within the first year. Your interests may evolve over time as you are exposed to new ideas and experiences, which is perfectly normal. Use the flexibility of the curriculum at La Follette to explore all the areas you may be interested in.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
Juggling a wide variety of research areas and projects was a challenging experience at first, but once you get a handle on project management and coordinating with team members, it becomes much easier.

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
The most rewarding experience for me has been learning from professors who are subject matter experts in their field. Consistently being challenged to improve my writing, researching, and analytical skills has helped me become a more thorough and thoughtful person.

What did you do before enrolling at the La Follette School?
Before enrolling at La Follette, I worked for several years at the financial services and consulting firm Ernst & Young. I primarily worked with clients in the manufacturing and retail industries, and spent a lot of time travelling to Chicago, Tennessee, California, and within Wisconsin for work.

Volunteer activities
I serve as a graduate school representative on the Associated Students of Madison (ASM) Student Council, as well as an appointed representative on the Student Services Finance Committee (SSFC).

Anything else?
I would like to use this space to plug some science fiction series I’ve enjoyed recently. If you have the time, go check out the Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy by Cixin Liu (the first book is The Three-Body Problem) or The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer (the first book of which was recently adapted into the 2018 movie Annihilation).