"WooSights" - Alumni Reflections & Advice
As an MPA student at the Woodrow Wilson School, I've been awed and advised by classmates, faculty, professors and alumni. My hope is that this new series of alumni profiles, “WooSights,” will give you a sense of the generosity and depth of the Wilson School community and offer some insights into how alumni have made the most of the opportunities it provides. -- Elizabeth Martin
Adam Kent, MPA ‘14
Program Officer, Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Adam Kent MPA ’14 came to the Wilson School with an existing professional skill set – mapping and statistical analysis – and hoped the program would build on these technical skills.
“Curriculum-wise, I could have gone other places that were more aligned with my interests, but overall Princeton had the complete package of engaging peers and professors and a great support network,” said Kent. “I was able to really dig into more academic issues and engage with my fellow students and professors in a way that allowed me the space to learn and absorb as much as I could.”
In the second year of the Wilson School’s MPA program, students participate in policy workshops in which they conduct research and provide recommendations for clients in the non-profit or government sectors.
“The workshop is one of the major reasons I got my job,” said Kent, who is now a program officer at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) in Washington, D.C.
At LISC, Kent promotes community development in Washington, D.C. neighborhoods. His work involves providing technical assistance and grant support to build the capacity of LISC’s partner organizations, which include affordable housing developers and local non-profits serving low-income D.C. residents.
Similarly, Kent’s policy workshop made recommendations to the New Jersey Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency on allocating Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery funds to increase affordable housing in the state, as well as on using low-income tax credits more effectively. Explaining his workshop’s findings in job interviews helped Kent articulate his interests and expertise. It also helped facilitate his transition from teaching in D.C. public schools to working on housing and economic development.
“If you are making a shift in areas of focus, whether it’s domestic development to international development or international development to security studies, you should make sure that your summer internship and workshop help you talk about that,” he said.
Kent advises approaching the MPA as a way to refine a professional skill set, which, in his case, meant gaining a theoretical understanding to complement his technical expertise. At the same time he advocates exploring the breadth of opportunities Princeton offers outside the MPA curriculum. For example, during his second year, Kent audited an undergraduate course on the history of black gospel music.
“Take advantage of the fact that you’re at Princeton and that there are so many amazing course offerings,” he said. “Those two recommendations seem to conflict, but they don’t: prioritize the things that are applicable, but make time for other things that interest you, too.”