A Ford School MPA is a game changer if you're at a point in your career when you want to expand your skillset or make a pivot. There is a ton of value to be unlocked, and it's a lot of fun along the way.
Prior to the Ford School: Practicing attorney
Why I chose an MPA: I wanted to expand my skill set and network beyond just the legal profession. A Ford School MPA was an obvious choice on both these fronts. It's a world class policy school right in my metro Detroit backyard, offering the chance to gain a new toolbox of policy skills that are really useful to me as an attorney. Plus, I wanted to grow my network and gain meaningful connections via the Ford School's strong resources. It was an easy choice.
How classmates enhanced the experience: The coolest thing about my MPA experience was getting to know my amazing, diverse, talented cohort of fellow classmates. All the different perspectives, represented fields, countries, ideas - it was so, so cool. I am still in touch with several of my classmates and made some great friends.
William Selesky (MPA ‘20) was a practicing attorney in state government who wanted to expand his policy skill set and network beyond the legal profession. He now serves as corporate counsel for Amazon.
What do you do for Amazon?
I'm an in-house attorney with Amazon focusing on environmental health and safety. I get the chance to work on interesting, challenging problems with really smart colleagues in a multidisciplinary environment. My Ford School MPA experience has really come in handy here; Ford was really where I got used to working with diverse teams to solve complex problems. It's an experience you don't automatically find out in the workplace—I'm glad I found it at the Ford School.
What was your favorite course?
I had so many favorites, but I think economics with Professor Leiser made the biggest impact on me. It wasn't always my favorite in the moment (I honestly found it difficult and hadn't used a calculator in probably 15 years), but diving into an unfamiliar subject with profound impacts throughout society was a super valuable experience for me. I didn't realize it at the time, but once I jumped into the private sector as in-house counsel, so many of the principles and perspectives from the course became relevant to my work every day. Plus, Professor Leiser is great.
What was a memorable project you worked on?
I worked on a consulting project with Amazon's public policy team and ultimately authored a white paper on global data sovereignty regulations that have a huge impact on Amazon's business. I had a chance to travel to Amazon's Washington D.C. office to meet some of the policy team, and learned a lot about a really timely, thorny topic.
I was working as an attorney in state government while completing my MPA. About six months after I graduated, when my current role became available, it was really useful for me to already have some Amazon experience.
What is your advice to an applicant trying to decide whether an MPA is right for them?
It's not easy, and at times it can be disruptive to the balance of your mid-career life, but a Ford MPA is a game changer if you're at a point in your career when you want to expand your skillset or make a pivot. There is a ton of value to be unlocked, and it's a lot of fun along the way. It's work though - you'll get out of it what you put into it.
What is your best memory at the Ford School?
I participated in the Ford School Washington DC trip and still have really great memories. I don't think you could ever get a better bang for your buck as a student than a week in the capital, making a bunch of really great new connections and having fun with your friends and classmates.