"Brown and the MPA offer a lot of opportunities to connect with the Brown community and your cohort; my advice is to use them! The friendships I made and the relationships I built with professors and staff at Brown are still strong almost a year after graduating."
Victoria Reichling, MPA ’22 discusses her experience in the Brown MPA program and how it prepared her for her position as a Government Affairs and Public Policy Analyst with Amtrak.
Tell us about your job:
Amtrak is a federally chartered corporation, operated and managed as a for-profit company, but with the U.S. government as its controlling shareholder. Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states, the District of Columbia, and three Canadian provinces on more than 21,400 miles of routes. I am a Government Affairs and Public Policy Analyst, and my position is within the Government Affairs Department, located in Washington, DC. My role is to help write the grant request to Congress each year, monitor compliance with the Appropriations Law and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), as well as produce informative materials for my team.
What has been the most impactful project you’ve worked on at your job so far?
A highlight of my job so far has been helping with and attending the B&P Tunnel replacement event in Baltimore, MD, with speakers including President Joe Biden, Secretary Pete Buttigieg, and Governor Wes Moore. The replacement of the 150-year-old tunnel is one of many infrastructure projects along the Northeast Corridor that will help improve passenger rail service between Washington, DC, and Boston. During my time at Brown, I used Amtrak to travel to Washington, DC, and New York City, and I believe that passenger rail in the United States has been neglected for far too long. We need to start improving existing infrastructure so that trains can become a viable alternative to planes and cars. I am excited that my job allows me to be part of a new era of transportation in the United States.
What skills from the MPA program do you use in your work?
My memo-writing skills are definitely the ones I use the most. Being able to condense complex information into a couple of pages in a short time is a skill I learned during my MPA and that I use every day. Another valuable skill I learned during my MPA was to trust my skills; the program helped me gain confidence in what I do by identifying things I didn’t know but also knowing how to get the answers I needed.
What was the highlight of your experience at Brown?
A highlight of my experience at Brown was being able to participate in the non-credit study group "Leadership and Governance in Challenging Times" led by former Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez. It was definitely a challenge adding another class to my schedule, but even though it was a non-credit study group, I learned a lot from Thomas Perez and his experience on the Hill. His practical approach and his selection of guest speakers from all corners of the industry helped me connect my academic knowledge to real-life skills that helped me succeed in my current position at Amtrak.
What advice would you give to young professionals entering the MPA program?
Invest time and effort into building relationships! Even though a one-year program has many benefits, it can be more difficult to find your place and make meaningful connections. However, Brown and the MPA offer a lot of opportunities to connect with the Brown community and your cohort; my advice is to use them! The friendships I made and the relationships I built with professors and staff at Brown are still strong almost a year after graduating. Learn from the different experiences and backgrounds people bring to the program and keep an open mind to learn how to succeed together. One year might not sound like it is enough, but I can say with confidence that the connections I made at Brown will last a lifetime.