Snowstorm strands Ford School internship/job seekers in nation's capital

February 17, 2010
Undaunted by brewing snowstorms, 60 of the Ford School's Master's of Public Policy students—about a quarter of the students enrolled in the program—headed to DC on Thursday, February 4, for two days of career panels with DC-area internship sponsors and employers. During the event, students explored a wide spectrum of public policy career options while networking with many of the Ford School's DC-area alumni.

Ten career panels spanning the two-day program introduced first-and second-year students to the range of career paths open to public policy graduates—from human rights work to lobbying, international development, think tank research, and public budgeting. Panelists hailed from the Kaiser Family Foundation, USAID, the U.S. Department of Labor, and many other government, corporate, and non-profit organizations.

Among the lineup was an hour-and-a-half panel on Careers in Multilateral Development Institutions held at the World Bank offices on H Street. Panelists fielded numerous questions from the roughly 30 Ford School students in attendance including, "Which offices within the Bank’s structure offer the most interesting opportunities for Ford School grads?" and "How necessary are quantitative analytic skills to getting a job at the World Bank." Ford School 2007 alumna Maggie Koziol, who organized the panel, said, "I think the students got a very honest description of how to go about getting a job at a multilateral, as well as what happens in the different parts of the World Bank."

At the end of the first day, students and alumni attended a talk on energy and environmental policy by Ford School faculty Barry Rabe, professor of public and environmental policy, and Carl Simon, professor of mathematics, economics, and public policy and associate director of the Michigan Memorial Phoenix Energy Institute. The evening was capped off with a student-alumni professional networking reception at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

When mounting snowfall shut down Capitol Hill, the last session in the two-day lineup, a much-anticipated panel on Capitol Hill careers, was cancelled; but all other activities went forward as scheduled.

Charlotte Mack, a second-year student, said she was disappointed that she didn’t have her snowshoes handy but was excited about the many career possibilities in DC. "The conversations inspired me to explore working in a variety of sectors," said Mack, who "witnessed the value in everything from environmental advocacy NGOs to the energy industry and federal government." Kristine Chong, another second-year student, enjoyed meeting with alumni and hearing their stories about life after graduate school. Chong attended the Human Rights and Poverty Alleviation Panel, then took advantage of her proximity to meet up with her old internship supervisor from the International Justice Mission.

"Many Ford School students select from the assortment of panels organized by the Graduate Career Services office, then supplement the lineup with appointments they make on their own," says Tom Phillips, who directs the annual trip along with Jennifer Niggemeier. First-year MPP student Adam Schmidt is a good example. After discussions with the American Foreign Service Association, MercyCorps, the Office of Management and Budget, and Representative Gary Peter's office, Schmidt was eager to head home to work on his internship applications but, like many other Ford School students, was detained in DC by airport closings. "The snow was fun until Monday," he said, "but then I wanted to get back to Ann Arbor to work on my takeaways from DC."

Regrettably, there was no escaping the snow for the school's DC alums--so many of whom worked to make the trip a success for today's students. We can only hope the record DC snowfall reminded them of happy days in graduate school in Ann Arbor.