Hudak ’05 on his Brookings job & working in DC

Dr. John Hudak is a political science major who graduated UConn in 2005. He is on twitter @JohnJHudak. We recently asked him a few questions:

What is your current position?

I am currently a Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. At Brookings, I am also affiliated with the new Center for Effective Public Management. The position is similar to a tenure-track position at a university, just with no teaching obligations. My job consists largely of self-directed research on politics and public policy, participation in public forums, and work with media. Most of my time is spent conducting original research and publishing in a variety formats ranging from blog posts to white papers to journal articles to books. Given my research interests, certain periods of time such as the months leading up to national elections involve extensive media demands that will consume much of my time.

What is your current research?

In general terms, I research the executive branch of the American government. Specifically, I examine how the president’s political and electoral interests inform his behavior and affect both administration and public policy. I often ask broad questions about presidential behavior or governance and use specific policy contexts as a vehicle to answer them. For instance, my forthcoming book, Presidential Pork, asks whether presidents’ electoral goals influence policy outcomes. I use federal grant allocations to show that presidential attention to swing states influences ‘who gets what and when.’ I also engage environmental enforcement, manufacturing policy, and gun control in my research.

What advice do you have for a new graduate who wants to work in Washington DC?

If I can recommend one bit of advice for anyone seeking a job in Washington, DC, it would be to develop quantitative skills. Whether it is data management, data analysis, or data visualization, employers are often starving for candidates with these skills. From newly minted college graduates to experienced PhDs, data skills are often essential for many positions in government, lobbying, non-profit, and think tanks. In some cases, they are an absolute requirement. In others, they are a savvy means of setting your application apart from the hundreds of others submitted for the same position. Although my data skills were broadened in graduate school, my coursework in political science at UConn started to develop data management and analytical skills and helped me overcome the initial fear and intimidation many majors face.

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