1. Why did you choose to be involved with PACE, and what did it add to your undergraduate experience?
When I found out about PACE, I was studying Communication and Journalism, and had been searching for a minor or certificate that would allow me to explore my interests in government and policy. One of the most appealing aspects of the program, prior to entering, was that I could earn credit for focusing on my studies through a kind of political lens, which I had already begun to do – PACE gave me the skills and the opportunity to do so at a higher level. Furthermore, the program exposed me to a remarkably wide variety of perspectives in the classroom, at the annual Issue Forum, and at Student Board events. The PACE community served as an excellent outlet for thoughtful discussion of current events and complex issues with people from all sorts of backgrounds.
2. Tell us about the studies and work you chose after you graduated: Why did you want to do that, and what has it been like?
After graduation, I took an internship at a consulting firm in Chicago that specializes in Economic Development and Public Finance, which was both a great introduction to the public sector, and an extremely valuable professional development experience; an intense, but rewarding period of learning new technical skills and professionalism. Having always been interested in the impact of information (especially on decision-making and policy), I’ve gravitated toward Research Administration, and have since been able to work on cancer research projects at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and on social science research projects at NORC at the University of Chicago. The past few years have offered great opportunities to work with lots of interesting, motivated people, passionate about advancing knowledge in their fields.
I had been looking into attending graduate school for some time, and ultimately decided to pursue a Master’s degree in either Public Policy (MPP) or Public Administration (MPA). Fortunately, I found a program in Chicago that offered a hybrid approach – the Master’s in Public Policy and Administration (MPPA) program at Northwestern University. The MPPA program answered just about any question I ever had about policy analysis and organizational function, and much like PACE, fostered a community of like-minded individuals seeking answers to similar questions. Grad school was an intimidating endeavor, but it certainly went a long way in rounding out my education.
3. What would you want to tell current PACE students about professional development and engagement?
I think it’s important to make a habit of honest self-assessment – to be conscious of what you’re capable of, what you want to be capable of, and what you’d need to do to move towards that goal. When you have a solid idea of where you’re at in your development, you can better identify what steps you might need to take in order to gain certain skills or experiences that will lead you where you want to go. In my opinion, it is a good thing to always be a work in progress (and to always be progressing). Additionally, I would encourage students to seek out events or organizations that interest them, and simply, to show up. In my experience, people are usually willing to provide their best advice or guidance upon request. Be nosy about things you care about, ask lots of questions, and absorb as much as possible. By just talking to people, you can develop a network to access for information, mentorship, job leads, and other countless opportunities to grow.