It seems as though it’s always the college of Arts and Sciences that puts on the events, but several times a semester a Cornell alum who has made their way to the upper echelons of the career he/she has made for himself comes back to Ithaca to share their experiences with any student who wishes to attend their talk.
Tonight, that alum was Tim Punke. His brief bio shared to us via email about the event goes as follows:
Tim Punke has over a decade of experience working in politics and policy, including work in the Clinton White House, the U.S. Senate, and for Presidential campaigns. Since leaving government service in 2005, Tim has worked as a Partner at K&L Gates, and helped build Monument Policy Group, a boutique consulting firm focused on government relations.
Right down my alley of course, campaigns, Clinton administration, lobbying…it’s like a carbon copy. So I thought it best to attend. The talk was interesting. As is usually the case with guest speakers like Mr. Punke, it was a narration of his life story. He was a very humble person, though, and through his story telling, an active listener can pick up on the clues, recommendations, and tips related to how he became a successful policy maker/political player. His tagline was that people are lucky, but that those people put themselves in positions to get lucky.
For me, the most important part of the talk was his bit about college/grad school giving you the opportunity to get a job, but the job being the actual tool that gives you the experience. This concept stuck with me because of my ongoing debate between Syracuse, American, and possibly Georgetown as the graduate institution at which to obtain my Masters in Public Policy/Administration once I have completed my Teach for America obligation. In having to choose one of these Universities, I’m hung up at the thought that one has the overall best MPA program, while another (still highly ranked) has a program that focuses more on applied politics, which is my interest. Tim Punke’s talk created a new line of thought in my head that you can learn on the job; right now, get the best education from the best possible resource.