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MPP in the Summer: Warren Rothe

Warren Rothe is entering his second year in Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy program and will complete his degree in 2018. He completed his undergraduate degree in political science at Michigan State in 2017. This summer, Warren interned at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) in Washington, D.C. with the CBPP’s State Fiscal Project.

CBPP is a think tank that specializes in programs that reduce poverty at both the federal and state level. The State Fiscal Project specifically focuses on state policy issues, collaborating with a network of 42 state-level non-profits dedicated to informing and shaping policy developments Warrenprimarily through budget and tax policies.

During his internship, Warren worked on a variety of research activities, including planning and implementing a research study on the composition of state income taxes, tracking budget developments in every state, assisting the research staff with management of state legislative and financial data, and writing a report on fiscal policy decisions implemented by states during the 2017 legislative session.

This research has given Warren a broad and deep understanding of policy issues in state budgets and tax codes. Furthermore, working in the nation’s capital allowed Warren to attend workshops and meet experts in various policy fields from social insurance to economic and racial segregation. He looks forward to applying this experience to his upcoming coursework, especially his quantitative-heavy research courses.

Working in state policy, albeit from a distance, solidified Warren’s desire to bring his policy knowledge and analytical skills back to his home state of Michigan, where he hopes to take his talents to the local government level. Upon graduation, Warren will continue to pursue a career in local government with the ultimate goal of becoming a city manager.

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MPP in the Summer: Alec D’Annunzio

Alec D’Annunzio, a native of Troy, Michigan, entered the MPP program as a linked-student. In May 2017, Alec graduated from MSU with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and another in PoliticIMG_5020al Science Pre-Law. In his first year of the linked program, Alec completed his MPP internship experience as a legislative fellowship position within the Republican Policy Office of the Michigan House, which analyzes and develops policy in accordance with state representatives within the Republican Caucus. The primary role of the Policy Office is to provide Representatives with information regarding the need for a potential policy as well as to examine its proposed efficacy, keeping in mind past attempts at similar policies or other states’ versions of such legislation. Combining all of this information, the policy analysts meet with Representatives and revise legislation accordingly, all in an effort to make it more practically and politically feasible.

Drawing on his interest in criminal justice policy issues and his varied experience at various levels of government, Alec worked alongside the policy analysts in reviewing and revising proposed legislation. One of Alec’s major duties at the Policy Office was to craft policy memos that provided representatives with a brief overview of a proposed bill, including its origins, proposed effects, and potential consequences. Additionally, Alec spent time researching state laws across varied policy areas to lay the groundwork for representatives to craft and introduce legislation. Alec especially enjoying determining which states enacted certain policies and how these policies have fared in practice as well as developing potential language to be used in Michigan legislation.

Most exciting to Alec was his opportunity to independently research, craft, and propose a policy of his own choosing. Recognizing that as of spring 2017 Michigan had no laws in relation to the burgeoning body-worn camera (BWC) technology utilized by law enforcement officers, Alec set out to draft a comprehensive policy to fill this controversial and complicated legal void. Of primary interest to Alec was ensuring the proper application of this technology by law enforcement officers and safeguarding citizens’ privacy rights when filmed. After meeting with stakeholders such as the ACLU and the Michigan State Police to assess the current climate surrounding BWCs, Alec compiled information on the status of BWC laws across the nation. From there, he drafted a policy that aimed to resolve all apparent conflicts and provide more certainty in the application of this technology. Alec drew on the skills he has learned in MPP program when crafting the succinct policy memos and maneuvering the political rhetoric when speaking about this issue area. During Alec’s research, State Representative Jim Runestad introduced legislation regarding release of footage from BWCs – and, naturally, Alec began working on the analysis of Rep Runestad’s bill. While Alec’s comprehensive policy is still a work in progress, Rep Runestad’s bill has been signed into law and will go into effect in 2018.

Perhaps the thing that is most clear to Alec after his time in the policy office is that he wants to be on the ground level of policy creation, affecting it before it becomes enacted. Alec is interested in working as a policy analyst in the future, as he appreciates that the job requires great versatility and the ability to research potential policies, draft bill language, analyze the effects of legislation, and provide political support to enact laws. Upon graduation from the MPP program, Alec plans to attend law school in order to further bolster his understanding of the legal process at all levels.

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Hire an MPP: Elizabeth Raczkowski

Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students graduated this May. They have a wealth raczkowskiE15of experience, knowledge, and passion that will allow them to put the skills they’ve acquired to good use. We’re posting profiles of all our graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!

Name: Elizabeth Raczkowski

Ideal Job Location: Southeast or Lansing, Michigan

Ideal Job: “By combining policy research with organizational or communication activities, I would like to enter into the government or nonprofit sector, ideally working on local-level policies.”

Elizabeth is especially eager to work in collaborative environments that seek to improve the public welfare. Furthermore, she hopes to compound on her experience as a graduate assistant for the public policy program by developing a sense of community in her new environment. She would also be interested in exploring the field of government relations.

Work Experience: Elizabeth is a triple-threat of work experience, having completed three internships during her time in the program. As a research associate, she learned valuable research, project management and communication skills, as evidenced by her exemplary administration of this very blog. While interning for the City of East Lansing, she gained valuable insight into the inner-workings of a local government. Finally, working with the Wayne County Treasurer through the InnovateGov internship program, “was helpful for learning how to collaborate with different stakeholders, resolve conflicts, and analyze a difficult policy problem”. Extrapolating on this experience, she completed her capstone project on tax foreclosure law and practices in the Detroit area and even proposed effective changes based on academic literature and best practices employed by other governments.

Academic Training: Having completed all available quantitative methods courses offered to MPP students, Elizabeth is veritable expert in the methodology required of accurate and unbiased data gathering and analysis. She notes that it was important for her to understand what goes into a balanced and complete policy review process and, unsurprising given her communication skills, is keenly aware of how best to convey her findings. Finally, she points out that “one of the most important skills I’ve learned are synthesizing information from a lot of different sources and balancing different viewpoints and needs with objective information”.

Elizabeth would be a strong asset to any organization in both policy and government spheres. Please reach out to us for further information on her or any of our fantastic graduating candidates!

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Survey Results Part 2

As we continue to analyze our Alumni Feedback Survey we would like to share more of our findings. This time we would like to focus on the open-ended responses in which respondents told us the highlights of their experience with the program as well as where they felt the program could improve. We  share now some common themes we’ve found as well as how the program has started to respond to your feedback!

We generated a word cloud for the 50 most common words used in response to the question: “If you were to highlight one of the best things in the MPP/MPA program at MSU, what would it be?”

Good Program WC

We also identified three themes among the nearly 75 responses to this question. One of the most often mentioned topics for alumni was the capstone project completed in the last semester of the program.Many alumni found the capstone to be one best experiences they had in the program. The capstone project allowed many to pursue an area of research they found personally important and while the capstone is an individual project, the opportunities for collaborating with local practitioners and faculty were often highlighted. Secondly the training in quantitative methods was mentioned as being very important for their careers. While some alumni continued to use their training in their analysis work, others found the basics of statistical analysis and their statistical literacy to be useful in wide-ranging settings. Lastly several alumni responded that the practical skills they gained through coursework or real-world experience from their internships to be the single most important aspect of the program. Interestingly this was also an area that was mentioned as needing improvement by many alumni.

Here is the word cloud we generated from the responses to the question “If you were to suggest one thing to improve in the MPP/MPA program at MSU, what would it be?”

Program improve WC

Again, we found a few common themes among the responses. The most common response from our alumni was to improve the career services offered by the program. Respondents wanted more guidance from beginning to the end of the program as well as more effort at maintaining contact with recent graduates. Another closely related theme was to make use of MSU’s location and have much better connections with state and local governments for internships, networking, and potential mentors for student projects. Many respondents indicated that their internships were the most useful part of their experience with the program and suggested a stronger focus on this. Lastly alumni advised a more practical curriculum over a theoretical emphasis as many became practitioners where the theoretical knowledge was less applicable than the practical skills they received from the program.

We are listening. The MPP Program has taken several steps to address these areas with a new emphasis on career services and internships. There has also been a concerted effort to build a closer relationship between the program and local practitioners in state and local governments, many of which are alumni themselves. You can keep track of our progress through our social media outlets, check out our posts on the distinguished speaker series as well as our alumni, faculty, and current student profiles!

mpp collage

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Alumni Survey Results Part 1

We have started to analyze our MPP @ MSU Alumni Feedback Survey and would like to share some of the initial results.

We were fortunate to have 85 respondents from throughout the history of the MPA/MPP program, with most coming from recent graduating classes.

Grad year

Our respondents work in all levels of government and throughout the policy world:

Where work

Alumni were asked to rate aspects of their experience with the MPP/MPA program, which gave us a clear picture of what we are doing well and where we need to improve.

rate exper big

We then asked respondents to rate the training they received from the MPP/MPA program in a variety of skills. Here we present responses to the five most highly rated skills of the twelve skills in our survey:

training

We then asked respondents to rate how important these skills are for their current work. Again, here are the five most highly rated skills of the twelve skills from our survey:

skills

With a clear picture of how alumni rated their training and how important that training is for their current work, the MPP program can better prepare students for the challenges they will face in the policy world. Respondents were also asked to comment on the best part of their time in the MPP/MPA program in an open-ended question. Responses covered many areas but some themes quickly emerged. First, alumni that were able to participate in an internship found that experience to be incredibly useful in starting their career. Second, many found their capstone projects to be very rewarding, especially if they were able to work closely with practitioners throughout their project. The proximity of the program to the state capital was very beneficial for alumni as well. Lastly, a common theme for many respondents was the value they found in their statistical training as they started their careers.

Respondents were also asked if they felt their degree was worth the effort needed to obtain it.

Worth it big

Lastly alumni were asked if they would like to engage with the MPP Program and how they would like to do so.

Engage

We will be reaching out to respondents who indicated their interest in engaging with the MPP program soon! Next week we will share more results from the survey, focusing on areas where respondents felt the program needed to improve and how we are working to incorporate these suggestions.

Finally, we would like to thank everyone who completed the survey. Your responses have been wonderful and given us a lot of insight into the history of the program as well as where the program might be going. This survey will be a very important tool for building the MPP program and we are grateful for your time and thoughtful responses!

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