Many of Michigan State University’s second-year Master of Public Policy students will be graduating this May. They have a wealth of 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 soon-to-be graduates so you can get to know them—and maybe find the next addition to your firm or organization!
Name: James-Michael Laney
Ideal Job Location: Lansing; Mid-Michigan
Ideal Job: “After graduation, I would like to work in a consulting role for nonprofit organizations that interact with state or local government agencies,” James says. He is also considering using his skills and experiences to become a policy analyst.
Eventually, James would like to run for elected office or start his own organization. In any role, he hopes to use the analytical abilities and policy knowledge he has learned in the MPP program to teach others and improve policymaking.
Work Experience: In the summer of 2016, James participated in the InnovateGov internship program. As an intern for the Wayne County Department of Health, Veterans & Community Wellness, he led a project to design and implement a program to improve service delivery and promote residents’ social, mental, and physical well-being. His research was important to the development of a business plan, which he and his fellow interns presented to the department’s director. Their plan included recommendations and suggestions that will assist the county in its ongoing efforts to address wellness issues.
James’s experience inspired him to explore this topic further for his MPP capstone project, for which he examined the program’s design and progress and proposed improvements.
James has also learned policy skills and gained legislative experience as an intern for the Michigan House of Representatives.
Academic Training: During his time in the MPP program, James completed the three-course series in Quantitative Methods.
“I learned how to apply different econometric tools and identify significant patterns in datasets of information.”
Additional courses of interest were State and Local Finance and Public Management; both sections of the 891 policy topics series. These courses helped James learn important concepts that have significant impacts on decision-making and policy implementation. He also explored courses related to the policy program during Grant Writing and Fund Development.
James was originally inspired to study public policy because he wanted to understand how to empower citizens in ways that can affect change. His own observations of politics and policy during his time in his biomathematics undergraduate program prompted him to explore a diverse range of related issues. He also credits the novels of Frank Herbert with inspiring him to think about the long-term importance of policies and the influence of the nature and the environment on the formation of societies and political power.
James’s appreciation for the interconnectedness of policy issues will serve him well in any position he holds. Because of this he seeks opportunities that will lead to more.
James concludes, “I want to always work in a role that allows me to learn and share what I’ve learned with others.”