Alumni Q&A: Kate Bedding

Kate Bedding graduated from CIPA in May of 2017 with a concentration in Public and Nonprofit Management.  She currently works as a Business Strategy Analyst at MITRE Corporation in McLean, VA.

 Why CIPA?  There are a lot of MPA programs around—what made you choose CIPA over other programs you were considering?

CIPA encourages you to pursue your areas of interest and tailor your degree accordingly. That was exactly what I was looking for in an MPA program. There are so many concentrations and diverse course offerings at CIPA, I was confident I could study anything I had an interest in. I also met some of the students, staff, and faculty prior to making my decision and felt immediately welcomed and part of a community. Everyone was so friendly and passionate about Public Administration; I felt that I fit in immediately. Accepting my offer to CIPA was an easy choice that I haven’t regretted for a minute!

What are your long-term career goals?  How did CIPA help prepare you for these?

Long-term, I hope to work to create a more effective, efficient government as a leader in a government or nonprofit organization. To prepare me for this, not only did CIPA allow me to take courses in areas such as organizational design and public finance, but I also had the opportunity, through numerous consulting experiences at Cornell, to put into action what I learned in my classes. For instance, through CIPA’s Consulting class, I assisted the City of Ithaca’s Wastewater Treatment Facility with a rebranding and stakeholder engagement plan. For my Capstone project, I worked with the U.S. Government Accountability Office to conduct research on the federal cybersecurity workforce. Projects such as these gave me invaluable experience working in teams, understanding government, and using research to inform decisions. In conjunction with my coursework, these experiences make me feel well-prepared for my career moving forward.

What would you tell a prospective student who asked you to list the top three reasons that CIPA was a good fit for you?

CIPA was a good fit for me because (1) it didn’t box me into an overly rigid curriculum – it allowed me to study the subjects and policy areas I was really interested in, (2) it was a diverse environment where I could learn every day from my peers, and (3) it had really strong engaged learning opportunities where I could put my skills to use and gain experience before entering the job market.

Are there any particular “stand out” experiences at CIPA that made a lasting impact on you? 

CIPA helped me get an internship at a wonderful nonprofit called the Partnership for Public Service, which consults with the federal government on a variety of issues from employee well-being to presidential transition. During my summer with the Partnership I was able to apply the skills I learned in class to making government more effective. This was one of my most formative experiences at CIPA, which helped shape the direction of my career and ultimately, land my first job.

I was also extremely fortunate to be a part of the Cornell Public Affairs Society, where I served as the Social Chair. This experience allowed me to really strengthen my leadership and community building skills to craft events and programs that would be fun, useful, and interesting for the entire CIPA community. I learned so much from my peers while serving in this position and felt that I really grew as a leader.

How would you describe the sense of community you find at CIPA? 

The CIPA community is a remarkable group of brilliant, passionate individuals who are invested in making positive changes in the world. Over these past two years, I have found the CIPA community to be incredibly supportive and inclusive. Everyone around me has challenged me to become a better thinker and encouraged me to pursue my goals. I know I will be able to rely on the CIPA community down the road as both a professional network and a group of lifelong friends.

What role did the Capstone play in your educational experience at CIPA?

For my Capstone project I had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on research targeted to attracting and retaining federal cybersecurity employees. Capstone allowed me to utilize the skills I had gained throughout my CIPA coursework as well as develop new skills, such as how to work with a client and manage team dynamics. The experience helped hone my ability to communicate clearly with a variety of stakeholders in order to manage expectations and deliver a high-quality project.

Is there anything else about the CIPA program, about the opportunities here, or about your particular experience that you would like to share with prospective students?

CIPA will support you in whatever direction you want to take your Public Administration career, whether it be working in government or running an NGO. The faculty and staff are talented and devoted and have years of experience in the field that they are excited to share with their students. The student body is incredibly diverse and brings a broad range of experiences and worldviews to CIPA that will challenge you, inspire you, and make you a better global citizen. I wouldn’t trade my experience at CIPA for anything- it’s truly one the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I would recommend it to anyone considering an MPA.

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