- Full nameJake Schindler
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- Please list your University and school/program.School:La Follette School of Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin–Madison
- Please enter the degree awarded by your school.Degree:MPA
- Current PositionCurrent Position:Legislative Analyst
- OrganizationOrganization:Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau
When Jake Schindler's partner at the small real estate brokerage firm mentioned his retirement plans, Schindler knew the time had come to think about a career change. He had spent several years in personal finance and then in the real estate and mortgage business since graduating from the University of Oklahoma in 2001.
"I had been thinking about public service," Schindler says. "I wanted to serve Wisconsin in some capacity, but I was uncertain how."
He turned to the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and earned a master's degree in public affairs in May 2010. Shortly afterward he joined the Wisconsin Legislative Audit Bureau. As a legislative analyst, Schindler took on two projects, one that evaluated the quality of asphalt roads in Wisconsin with an emphasis on the warranty program for some of the highways. The other project was an audit of Family Care, one of Wisconsin's long-term care service systems that help older adults or people with developmental or physical disabilities with daily living and health care.
Both projects proved intriguing, although Schindler initially wondered about asphalt study. "But once I was immersed in the work, I found that I was curious to learn more," he says. "The policy implications are also part of what makes the project interesting."
For the Family Care audit, Schindler was already familiar with aspects of the state Department of Health Services program due to the public affairs workshop he took at the La Follette School. The report compared Family Care to another DHS program, IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct).
The experience helped develop his skills in writing and teamwork. "We had to convey complex, program-specific information in a way that made sense to someone who was not a DHS insider," Schindler says. "Teamwork came into play as we shared and divided tasks on a large project and decided what we could accomplish versus what we wanted to accomplish and how that would answer our core questions. Above all, we practiced operating in a world of incomplete or imperfect information, given the challenge that IRIS was a new and growing program."
He adds that his La Follette courses on introductory and advanced methods for public policy analysis helped him become more comfortable with data analysis. "The required courses give you the chance to develop the analytical mindset that will help you succeed in any number of career paths," Schindler says.
"The freedom to build your degree program also means that you are not constrained by too many courses that may not be applicable to your specific interests," Schindler adds. "Through La Follette I discovered the potential benefits of being more of a generalist and getting the chance to learn about numerous topics. This is definitely the case at the LAB — each program evaluation will take me into new territory."