Alumni Feature - Matt Shafer

Here at the Martin School, we are lucky to have some fantastic alumni. From recent graduates to our more seasoned alumni, we love to celebrate our graduate's success. We are excited to continue that celebration by examining how the Martin School prepared recent 2018 grad Matt Schaffer for his new career with The Council of State Governments (CSG).  

Where is it you currently work?

I am a Senior Policy Analyst in CSG’s Center of Innovation. The Center of Innovation houses all of CSG’s grant-funded projects. I started at CSG as a graduate fellow in January of 2017 and was fortunate enough to get hired full-time when a grant-funded position in the center opened up. A lot of what I do is carry out the deliverables outlined in the proposed grant workplan. This varies from project to project but generally includes things like writing reports, convening meetings, and providing technical assistance to states.  

The grant I am currently employed under is from the U.S Department of Labor and is tasked with helping states examine their occupational licensing practices. The goal of this three-year project is to identify licensing criteria to ensure that existing and new licensing requirements are not overly broad, burdensome or restrictive, and that they do not create unnecessary barriers to labor market entry, and improve the portability and reciprocity provisions for selected occupations across state lines.

What is your favorite project you have been a part of at CSG?
Beyond the Occupational Licensing project, I have enjoyed getting to work with our partners at the Office of Disability Employment (ODEP) on workforce development for people with disabilities. While most express a desire, ability and willingness to work, many adults and youth with disabilities experience significant barriers to employment. We have been working with states to help them best meet the needs of their citizens with disabilities.

How do you feel the Martin School prepared you for your new position?
The Martin School prepared me to think critically and be a good writer. So much of what I do is contingent on an ability to write clearly and succinctly. Learning how to write policy briefs, and short memos were very valuable. A critical component of my job at CSG is taking complex issues and condensing them into bullet points or a one-page description. When working with state officials such as legislators or staff in executive offices, many times they don’t have the ability to read a 10-page report about an issue. I need to be able to communicate problems and solutions in a succinct way so that it is easily digestible. I believe I initially learned that skill at the Martin School.  

What was your favorite class at the Martin School?
The class I learned the most in was Public Econ taught by Dr. Agrawal. I’m not sure that I would say it was my absolute favorite because it was very challenging. We learned about different public programs like social security, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance and studied what problem they are trying to solve and how each affects the economy in a supply-demand model. Despite the difficulty, I think that was the most valuable class I took at the Martin School.