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From MCLA to D.C., recent grad eyes policy analyst career

06/11/2014

After earning her bachelor's degree in political science and public policy, Chloe McGrath '13 headed to Washington D.C., where she's earning her master's in public policy at American University.

In addition to her studies, she's serving an internship with a Washington, D.C., bipartisan political consulting firm, Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS), a public affairs/public relations policy firm.

McGrath, whose goal is to become a policy analyst, said she was drawn to the rigor of American's program, as well as its network and location in D.C., a hub for policy and internship opportunities.  

Her internship at HPS, where she's part of the news cycle management team, is "very fast-paced, demanding, yet extremely rewarding," McGrath said.

"I monitor news and social media for clients for stories that directly affect them - for better or for worse," McGrath explained. "What makes this department special is the fact that it is all done in real time, which is so critical for our clients.

"We witness firsthand how policy shapes the media, and, more importantly, how media shapes policy. That is a constant relationship. We aren't simply sitting back and monitoring, but we are proactively shaping the narrative as well, which is maybe the most important point of the work I do."   

At American University, McGrath takes courses centered in quantitative methods, analysis and economics.

"I am concentrating in public financial management, which will be a separate certificate along with my degree," she explained. "I wanted that specific concentration because I realized that economics and financial policies really bleed into all other policy areas, and having that economics background will be critical in understanding broader issues."

According to McGrath, MCLA was a perfect fit for her, and she could not be more prepared for graduate school.

"The best parts for me were the small class sizes and having the opportunity to really get to know my department - political science and history," she said of her undergraduate experience. "I was never a number, and that sense of self-worth and morale really carries over into productivity and quality of work," she said.

"There were also a wide variety of class choices that really catered to all areas to make me well-rounded. A liberal arts education pushes you out of your comfort zone at times, but it makes you all the better for it, both personally and professionally," McGrath added.

In addition to the support she received from her MCLA professors with her graduate school application, McGrath took advantage of opportunities which helped her to grow and make her "grad school ready."

"For instance, I was able to attend the Democratic National Convention in 2012, and participated in an academic seminar with the Washington Center, simultaneously. I learned so much and made some great contacts that I still have to this day," McGrath said.

"Additionally, in my last semester at MCLA, I was chosen to present my work at the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges Undergraduate Research Conference, which MCLA hosted. That was a memorable experience and a great way to close out my undergraduate career." 

McGrath plans to complete her master's in 2016, when she'll begin her career as an analyst. "I can't wait," she said.