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From Dramatic Arts to Public Policy

By Ginny Coats

Graduate Gateway Program alumna Ginny Coats

During my senior year at Birmingham-Southern College, I spent countless hours weighing the pros and cons of diving straight into grad school rather than immediately pursuing a career. While a part of me was eager to abandon the classroom in exchange for the workplace to begin gaining valuable "real world" experience, I realized I still had much to learn in my field of interest before I would be a competitive candidate for my dream job in the environmental and energy policy sector. Coming from a background in theatre and political science, I needed to find a transitional program that would grant me access to the public policy world, introduce me to thought leaders and potential mentors, and give me further academic exposure to the issues that excited me. The Graduate Gateway Program Applied Politics track appealed to me because it allowed me to continue my education without sacrificing the opportunity to gain the "real world" work experience I craved.

Grad Gateway provided me an invaluable opportunity to experience challenging graduate coursework, create and foster my network in D.C., and grow my passion for environmental and energy policy through an internship at an environmental non-profit organization in DC. It also allowed me to gain credibility in my field and learn from top-notch practitioners and scholars at American in my field of study. Most importantly, through my transformational semester in DC, I gained an understanding of the steps I needed to take to succeed in the public policy world and the confidence to take those steps.

Immediately after my Grad Gateway semester, I entered American University's School of Public Affairs as a full-time Masters of Public Administration student. After internship experiences with DC Government and a regional solar trade association, I accepted a position as an Energy Industry Analyst at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency within the Department of Energy, where I have worked since May 2012. I graduated with my MPA several months after starting work at FERC in December 2012.

I thank the Grad Gateway Program for serving as the launchpad for my post-college academic and professional careers. If you're seeking an extremely fulfilling experience to boost your competitiveness as a job applicant or masters degree candidate, look no further.