DC career trip returns to advance connections between students and alumni

February 29, 2024

The DC career exploration trip, a Ford School tradition organized by Career Services, was held this year on February 8th and 9th in person for the first time since 2020. The experience allows graduate and undergraduate students to learn about policy careers in Washington, DC while engaging with alumni and other professionals working in the public, private, and nongovernmental/intergovernmental sectors.

Ford School alumni board member Olga Ioffe-Kasher (MPP/MA '99), a results-based management specialist consultant for the International Finance Corporation (IFC), attended the networking event and served as a panelist. “As an international student, I felt very welcomed by my MPP program,” Ioffe-Kasher noted. “The staff and professors were my new family and a new support system. While it’s exciting to move to a new country to learn and grow, it can also be lonely at times. These students depend on each other as well as mentors like me to share advice, experience, and support to help them navigate the job search and corporate culture in the United States.”

Both days included alumni panels and smaller focused conversations on advocacy, technology/artificial intelligence/cybersecurity, international development, education policy, energy/environment, consulting, international policy and diplomacy, data analysis, social policy, and careers on Capitol Hill. A wide array of alumni appeared on these panels representing NGOs, international organizations, consulting/private sector, and U.S. federal government.

“The panels allowed me to see first hand that a master of public policy can lead you to a variety of jobs—some in policy creation, some in program management, some in communications, and many others,” said Georgina Bailey (MPP ‘25). "It was helpful to see how different panelists and alumni have used their Ford School degree to chart many career paths in D.C and beyond.”

A Thursday evening reception and student/alumni networking event was kicked off with a fireside chat between Dean Celeste Watkins-Hayes and DC-based alum and Ford School Committee member Hardy Vieux (MPP/JD ‘97). Dean Watkins-Hayes reflected on her intellectual and personal journey that led her to the Ford School and how that influences her priorities for the school. They also discussed how the Ford School is navigating current events in an election year and the importance of and ways to promote dialogue across differences.

“One of the most helpful parts of the trip was the reception,” said Elizaveta Dorofeeva (MPP ‘25). “Not only did I have a chance to listen to the Dean and her vision for Ford, but I was able to connect with alumni in a more informal setting. I learned a lot about stories and pathways of different people, which motivated me even more.”

“I enjoyed meeting Fordies who were interested in the international track of public policy work,” Ioffe-Kasher said. “The enthusiasm, the positive energy, and the breadth and depth of the students’ experiences and backgrounds impressed me very much.”

“The DC trip provided opportunities to personally meet numerous alumni from diverse working environments spanning public, private, and NGOs,” said Elisa Wang (MPP ‘25). “I gained insights into their current work, career trajectories, and professional experiences. Moreover, their perspectives on maximizing our time at Ford School have been enlightening and invaluable for personal and professional development.”

View all photos from this year’s career trip on Flickr.