New Connections, New Horizons: Spring Break in D.C.

By Susan Oh, MPP ’17

For the final spring break of my MPP program, I was incredibly lucky to travel to Washington D.C. with Professor Steve Commins and five other Luskin students to visit a number of NGOs, international aid and development organizations, and research institutions, including the World Bank, USAID, Aspen Institute and Mathematica, to name a few. During our meetings with these organizations, we had the opportunity to ask questions about what day-to-day policy work looks like, the current challenges in their fields and their thoughts about the future. Everyone we met with was incredibly open to sharing their experiences with us, as well as connecting us to opportunities in our careers of interest.

I used this trip not only to gauge the climate of D.C. (in terms of both weather and politics), but to also assess the job market, since I am interested in working in some aspect of international policy. Meeting with staff from some of the top organizations in the field helped inform me of where I should be looking for career opportunities and the skills I should be developing to prepare for them. I also used this opportunity to meet the supervisor of my remote internship with the State Department. I gained invaluable insight about the work I was contributing to and made lasting connections with the staff there, which I would not have been able to do through emails and online webinars. The added bonuses of the trip were the connections I made with the Luskin students with whom I was traveling and the Luskin alumni living and working in D.C. While the Public Policy program allows for collaboration across departments, I feel that I have not met as many Planning and Social Welfare students as I wanted to during my program. This trip was a great opportunity to meet and travel with students from other Luskin departments and share my interest with them in international development and aid work.

As I count down the days until graduation, I will surely be reaching out to a number of the people we met to explore career opportunities and maintain meaningful connections I made during the trip. This opportunity was definitely the icing on the cake of my graduate program and was incredibly relevant since I was wondering how I would put my new knowledge and skills into practice—and it helps that I have a number of new mentors in D.C. who are supporting me to do just that. I am sincerely grateful to Professor Steve Commins, Marisa Lemorande and all of the Luskin alumni who made this trip possible.