Alumni in Action

Public Service Spotlight

Julia Mitchell

MPA-Health - 2011

Health Budget Analyst Congressional Budget Office

Tell us about your current public service work. Can you briefly describe your employment organization and position responsibilities, as well as any relevant volunteer or entrepreneurial activities?

I am a Health Budget Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office in Washington, DC. CBO provides nonpartisan, objective analyses of budgetary and economic issues to support the United States Congress. I work in the Budget Analysis Division where my main responsibility is to provide the Congress with cost estimates of proposed legislation affecting programs assigned to me.

Please summarize your professional and academic background. What has been a highlight?

Prior to joining CBO as a full-time analyst and during my time at Wagner, I interned with the agency in the Budget Analysis Division working on prescription drug expenditure issues. Before attending Wagner, I worked in the pharmaceutical industry in sales and marketing. I received my undergraduate degree in Business Administration from Temple University.

What led you to pursue a master's degree in Public Administration? Why did you decide to study at Wagner?

Through my pharmaceutical experience, I worked with various health care stakeholders – health care providers, hospital executives, and state and local health departments. I was able to witness and experience the policy challenges facing our health care system. I wanted to attend Wagner because I knew I would have the opportunity to merge my on-the-ground experience with our health system with the tools needed to evaluate policies meant to improve it.

In your current position, how do you use the knowledge and skills that you gained at Wagner? Which skills do you use most frequently?

Courses I took at Wagner that focused on developing analytical and writing skills have been extremely useful at CBO. I constantly draw upon my economic, statistical, and financial training. Courses in public economics, finance, and health policy have given me a contextual and applicable understanding of the framework used to assess policy issues I face.

Reflecting on your academic experience, what Wagner courses, professors, and / or projects had the greatest influence on your professional development? How?

Doing the research capstone had the greatest and most positive impact on my professional development. I was able to put the conceptual knowledge learned in the classroom into action in a way that’s extremely relevant to what I do currently. Having the experience of working with a team to develop and execute a research project mirrors the process I contribute to now and helps me as a consumer of policy research. Taking Public Finance and Economics and Microeconomics has also helped me understand the context of the work I do and given me skills to approach that work.

Reflecting on your time outside of the classroom (social events, orientations, trainings, etc.), can you describe one or two key moments at Wagner that impacted your passion for public service?

Tutoring and being a teaching assistant during my time at Wagner helped me greater appreciate my chosen path in public service. It really was inspiring to meet and assist students as they pursued knowledge and skills to one day impact their fields. Being reminded of the sincerity and dedication it takes to get into public service regularly was an awesome and confirming experience.

Are there any programs, opportunities or other aspects of the Wagner experience that you wish you had leveraged during your time as a student?

I would have taken more quantitative analysis and economics courses within Wagner or offered at other schools within the NYU community. I also would have taken the opportunity to attend more NYU events and spend more time with the Wagner community outside of the classroom.

How are you involved with the Wagner community as an alumna (i.e. attending events, mentoring students, maintaining connections with other alumni, recruiting at Wagner, etc)?

Living in DC limits my involvement with the Wagner community. I've attended events in DC that have been sponsored by Wagner or involved Wagner alumni. I maintain connections with other alumni informally and keep in touch with a few professors and staff.