One of Danny Benson’s career goals has been to contribute in a substantive way to policies and programs he felt were important. The La Follette School helped put him on the path to achieving that goal.
Shortly after receiving his master of public affairs (MPA) degree in December 2017, Benson learned that he was a finalist for the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program, which places recent graduates with federal agencies for two-year assignments.
“At the La Follette School, I learned how to take advantage of opportunities when they presented themselves,” said Benson, who hopes to work on housing and community-development policy. “When those opportunities don’t present themselves, La Follette taught me how to open the doors that help me get where I want to go.”
Internships at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) solidified Benson’s interest in pursuing the PMF.
“The sheer number of OMB employees who were PMFers was staggering,” he said. “They also were incredibly intelligent and thoughtful in the manner in which they approached their work. I spoke to several current and former PMFers, and they all credited the program for helping them acclimate into their roles within their respective agency.”
Several La Follette School alumni and PMF recipients also provided guidance and encouragement, he said. “During my OMB internship, I met with Katherine Sydor (MPA ’12), who interned and worked in Washington, D.C., before joining the La Follette School. Her extensive experience in D.C. and her reassurance that the value of the PMF program was worth the effort also influenced my decision to apply.”
“While I was skeptical of having to take a Professional Development Workshop, I now believe that a lot of the information provided in the course was instrumental in preparing me for the application,” he said. “Hilary Shager’s resume-building lessons were very useful in crafting a high-quality, clear, and concise resume. With her advice, I was able to better highlight many of my accomplishments I was proud of in my academic and professional careers.”
During the D.C. career development visit in November 2016, Benson spoke with an employee at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, who connected him with one of her colleagues who went through the PMF program.
Benson received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2012 and a master’s degree in urban planning from UW–Milwaukee in 2016.
“I am so grateful to all the La Follette School faculty, staff and alumni who have helped me over the last year and a half, and to my peers from whom I’ve learned just as much,” he said.