News: School of Public Policy Alumni provide advice to current students

What I Wish I Had Known 1

Posted September 5, 2018

Last Thursday, August 28th, the School of Public Policy hosted an event for alumni and students entitled, “What I Wish I Had Known”. The event featured alumni from the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate programs at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy and each person shared valuable tips with current students. Thema Monroe-White, Randy Gibbs, Tyler “TJ” Kaplan, Amanda Nabors, Derek Jett, Travis Horsley, and Margaret Burgess were the alumni panelists.

Throughout the event, students asked questions such as how to obtain internships, what classes to take, and how to position themselves for their future careers. The alumni offered specific answers to each question but also shared general advice. One first-year student asked, ”How do I get an internship when I don’t know how to do anything?” The panelists were reassuring and told the student that undergraduates, even first-year students, do indeed “know stuff’: “You know how to understand complex issues, you can read scientific reports and help policy makers make decisions, and you can write well.” On the latter point, the alums strongly encouraged the students develop their writing skills.

Another shared recommendation was developing “hard skills” in statistics, computing, and other tools for problem-solving, using GT courses and online options. They told students that they need to develop a narrative to articulate the skills they would leverage in a job (even one that isn’t advertised as “public policy”). Among those should be the ability to blend technical and analytical skills with an ability to see the larger contexts of problems and an awareness of the human impacts of decisions. At the conclusion of the panel discussion, each alumnus talked individually with students, giving them contact information and answering specific personal questions. Both alumni and students said that they enjoyed the experience. 

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