Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
MPA
Ariana Zukergood Brown University MPA

"Through developing relationships with the Watson faculty throughout the summer session, I gained mentors and role models that contributed to my decision to pursue a research-based career."

Student Spotlight: Ariana Zukergood, MPA ’20

Policy interests: Incarceration policy, immigration policy, child welfare policy, labor policy
Consultancy: Vera Institute of Justice, Center for on Immigration and Justice, New York, New York
Hometown: Vienna, Virginia  

Why did you choose Brown for your Master of Public Affairs?

I chose Brown for my MPA primarily because of the consultancy opportunity. I initially approached this aspect of the program as an opportunity to make connections for a full-time position, and I ultimately ended up being hired for both my consultancy and full-time job at the same organization. Other motivating factors were the Global Policy Experience and the fact that the program is only one year long. Choosing a program that is only one year enabled me to save money not only on tuition, but also on the opportunity cost of missing another year of full-time salary.

How has your time at the Watson Institute shaped your interest in policy?

Through developing relationships with the Watson faculty throughout the summer session, I gained mentors and role models that contributed to my decision to pursue a research-based career. Because of these individuals, I am now considering eventually getting my PhD. Seeing the breadth of research that the Faculty works on all within the same general field opened my eyes to the opportunities that academia could present in tackling many different yet important policy issues.

What has been a highlight during your time at the Brown?

A main highlight during my time at Brown was traveling to Cambodia for my Global Policy Experience. In Cambodia, we were granted the privilege of meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and the Ministry of the Environment. We also met with university students, nonprofits, and performers of traditional Cambodian dance. The trip was the ideal mix of experiencing international policy making and having the freedom to explore important cultural sites in Cambodia.

What will you be working on during your consultancy at the Vera Institute of Justice?

During my consultancy, I will be analyzing data and policy concerning the incarceration of immigrants. While the main deliverable is TBD, I will likely be working with government data to draw conclusions about what the Vera Institute can do to better support persecuted immigrants in the U.S.

You already have a job lined up with the Vera Institute after you graduate. How has what you learned in the MPA program helped you secure that position?

The mentorship and professional support that MPA Faculty, specifically John Friedman and Emily Oster, provided me was pivotal to my realization that I wanted to be a data analyst at a think tank. Moreover, the quantitative statistics and economic modeling skills that I learned in the summer and into the fall gave me tangible experience working with data through excel, STATA, and R. These experiences prepared me for the skills assessment associated with the hiring process for my job. The summer classes also provided me with examples of times that I had worked with data for my behavioral interviews. 

December 2019