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MPA Grad Reflects on Value of CSG Internship

James Tatum, MPA Student

James  Tatum graduated from the MPA program in May 2020 and continues to work at the Council of State Governments in Lexington, KY. 


When I started at the Martin School, I had a passion for politics and policy, but I did not have a concentration in mind. I learned about The Council of State Governments (CSG) from a 2nd year Martin School student at our orientation. The CSG is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that serves all three branches of state government in every state and US territory. Once I learned more about the CSG, I knew that it was exactly the kind of organization I wanted to work for after I earned my degree.


I applied for a graduate fellow position as soon as possible and I was hired in January 2019. I began working with The CSG's Shared State Legislation database, searching for promising bills that had been signed into law in 2018 and compiling them for a yearly report that we release to help educate legislators on emerging problems and proposed solutions. I was asked to write an article about a Federal decision to reinterpret the Wire Act of 1961 and how it could affect state budgets. My superiors put me in touch with executive branch members and legislators in several states, I wrote the article, and published my first professional work in February 2019. I had the opportunity to research cannabis policy in all 50 states to contribute to our 2019 edition of the Book of the States. Through the last three months of my internship I worked with our Healthy States Taskforce researching developing fields in healthcare and identifying the most promising fields to include in the initial Healthy States platform.


Before I reached the end of my 400-hour requirement, my supervisor encouraged me to apply for a full-time position as a research associate with The CSG's grant-funded department, the Center of Innovation. I was hired in May 2019 and was promoted to policy analyst in January 2020. Without the Martin School, I would not have learned about such a great organization, and I would not have been able to start my career in policy so quickly.