Fellowship Professional Development Week


By: Kevin Reilly, 2016-2017 Work First Fellow


In March 2017, Fellows completed two days of professional development looking at both research methods and different ways to be involved in public policy. Dr. Swati Desai, a career economist, met with Fellows in an office hour like setting to work on data analysis. Dr. Desai reminded Fellows to let the data lead the policy and not to let our political objectives dictate the data. Integrity in data collection and analyses is vital for a significant policy proposal.


Also on day one, Fellows shared their research progress with the new Director of Education and Fellowship, Campbell Glenn. Glenn expressed her enthusiasm for the variety of topics and progress in research. Fellows are working on subjects that range from the minimum wage increase to computer literacy and access to the internet.


The second day of professional development was geared towards careers in public policy.  Fellows met with Jesse Laymon, the director of policy and advocacy for the NYC Education and Training Coalition. Laymon expressed the different ways to make policy impact through various means of employment and volunteering. He shared stories about working for electoral campaigns, grassroots advocacy groups, and formal lobbying programs.


Following Mr. Laymon, Ashley Putnam, the co-founder of the Work First Fellowship, joined the Fellows to discuss why she started the Fellowship program. Putnam’s vision combined three fascinating areas of education & training, research, and public policy advocacy. Putnam mentioned success stories about Fellows who went onto policy grad schools, lawyers and even those who stayed on to work with clients in the workforce development field. Fellows then spoke with a federal clerk and Columbia Law graduate about the different facets of a legal career and how they could intersect with public policy. 


Lastly, Fellows took some time to reflect on their experiences working with clients for the past 10-months. They collected those thoughts in tweet-form and even a video which may surface soon! 


Entering the final two months of the cohort, Fellows will work on their research & policy proposals.