“Thanks to my fellowship, I was able to focus more on my coursework and phase out of my job. I pursued an internship in a Seattle City Council office and absorbed a great deal in meetings with city department staff and community organizations. I felt like I could explore and take more risks with temporary roles once I graduated with the financial boost from my fellowship, until I found the right long-term role.”
- Chris Rule (MPA ’12)
Chris Rule, a recipient of the Harry A. and Ann L. Pryde Endowed Fellowship during his studies at the Evans School, is currently an associate planner for Sound Transit.
What made you choose to get an MPA from the Evans School?
I was a transportation advocate and had been involved in political campaigns. I wanted to work for an agency where I could be closer to making decisions on projects and actually getting them built. I met more and more people who had completed an MPA at the Evans School, and I wanted the same tools for management and policy analysis.
How did the fellowship that you received from the Evans School help support your pursuit of the MPA?
Thanks to my fellowship, I was able to focus more on my coursework and phase out of my job. I pursued an internship in a Seattle City Council office and absorbed a great deal in meetings with city department staff and community organizations. I felt like I could explore and take more risks with temporary roles once I graduated with the financial boost from my fellowship, until I found the right long-term role.
What skills from your Evans School education, or lessons from the faculty, have been the most useful in your recent or current positions?
The biggest was learning a number of frameworks for thinking strategically, and finding ways to contribute and grow my role. I am helping plan future transit lines in the region, and I was able to bring in governance and funding knowledge. Public finance classes were essential, especially a homework assignment on financing rail lines that gave me a great conversation topic when I interviewed for my first job at Sound Transit. I also benefited from classes taught by the Evans School and Department of Urban Design and Planning—they gave me great exposure to people learning other disciplines and their ways of thinking.
If you completed an internship, please share any highlights or whether it helped in your job search efforts after graduation.
I was able to waive the internship requirement, but I found it valuable to intern at the [Seattle] City Council when I saw an opportunity arise. This turned into a temporary legislative assistant job in the summer after graduation when one of my colleagues ran for office. I was constantly meeting new staff in city departments and community nonprofits, and learning about their programs.
How has being a part of the Evans School network benefited you in your work or professional development?
I am still in touch with friends from my Evans School cohort, and bounce ideas off of them. We lend books and have even emailed about re-reading and discussing articles from our management classes. I also checked the career website all the time. In fact, I found two positions using EvansJobs. It’s pretty common to bond with people in local government once we find out we are alumni.
What advice do you have for people who want to work in an organization or a position like yours?
Internships and temporary jobs are a great foot in the door here to develop and show your skills on projects. Colleagues were supportive and helped me find the right position. I learned a lot of background on transit from reading news and blogs over time, and attending community events and wonky interest group gatherings.