Annual D.C. trip connects students, alumni

February 1, 2007

Ann Arbor lies a short distance by air from a key hub of the public policy world in Washington, DC. Each February the Ford School's Graduate Career Services Office organizes a trip aimed at tapping, strengthening, and expanding the network of Ford School alumni working in the policy institutions of the nation's capitol.

On February 8th and 9th 19 current students polished their resumes, packed their suits and skipped Thursday and Friday classes to search for jobs, internships and long-term contacts at the annual DC pilgrimage. They were met by 65 Ford School alumni eager to assist them over the course of their two-day mission. Tom Phillips, the new Assistant Director of Graduate Career services, came away with a positive impression. "I was struck by both the number of alums and by their willingness to help our students with their job and internship searches." Major stops included the Office of Management and Budget, the Government Accountability Office, the State Department and USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation and the World Bank.

"This year," said Graduate Career Services director Jennifer Niggemeier, "we also included more panel discussions in order to reach more organizations and facilitate richer dialogues between students and alumni over the value and marketability of the Ford School skill set." Thursday afternoon featured a line-up at the Brookings Institution of Ford School alums working in think tanks ranging from the Rand Corporation to Mathematica Policy Research and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. On Friday a panel of former Ford School students, including representatives of ICF International and Booz Allen, shared strategies for finding employment in the burgeoning field of public sector consulting.

Most students supplemented the roster of Ford School events by arranging their own formal and informational interviews. According to second-year student Limor Ben-Har, "Not only were there more relevant and informative sessions than I could attend (yes, even as an international student!), but the trip also provided me with a reason to set up my own meetings which were very fruitful."

On Thursday evening a short walk took students from the Brookings Institution to the Dragonfly Sushi Bar where they networked with a roomful of alumni over drinks and sushi. The general opinion: everyone was grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to the next steps in their career search. Even those who did not find employment on this trip came away with a greatly refined map of their choices and possibilities across the DC policy landscape.