Recently, the Office of Alumni Career Management sat down with alumna Melissa Wasser to talk about her time at Ohio State, and how that has impacted her career since graduation. Below are Melissa’s answers to some of our questions, as well as her advice for current and prospective Buckeyes considering following in her career path.
Degree: J.D. & M.A. in Public Policy and Management
Graduation Year: 2017
Current Occupation: Policy Counsel at the Project On Government Oversight
- – What brought you to The Ohio State University?
I always knew I wanted to go to law school, but I still had an interest in policy work that I wasn’t able to explore during undergrad. Knowing The Ohio State University has one of the best dual degree programs in the country at the Moritz College of Law and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs was the main reason driving my decision to enroll at Ohio State. I wanted the opportunity to challenge myself at a top-tier university while building the necessary skills to enter the workforce as a lawyer.
- – How did your experiences at Ohio State shape your career path?
Ohio State gave me the opportunity to participate in the Moritz College of Law’s Legislation Clinic, which gave me clinical placement experience working at the Ohio Statehouse. Learning how to monitor and analyze legislative issues at the state level is valuable knowledge that I still use in my current role every day. I was able to work with state legislators, give input on legislative language, and see how the state legislative process really worked. Being able to have this experience in one of the few legislation clinics in the country really set me apart from my peers and I credit that experience for helping me realize what my dream job now looks like.
3. – What advice do you have for OSU alumni and students interested in pursuing a career in your field?
If you’re looking for a career in the policy space, I highly recommend finding a mentor that can help guide you in your career. When I was searching for my current position, I reached out to mentors that I’ve had since college, mentors in law school, and other Buckeyes in this space to just ask for some advice. Find people who are where you want to be in 5 or 10 years and ask them how they got to their current position. Sometimes, all it takes is a random email or LinkedIn message asking another Buckeye for 15 minutes of their time to find the person who will make a profound impact on your professional life. Take advantage of resources at Ohio State that can connect you to alumni in the career field you want to be in! Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to not only better yourself, but to find that next opportunity.
- – What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
My greatest professional accomplishment would be testifying before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet last summer on the federal judiciary during the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to speak to members of Congress directly on how important access to the federal courts is, especially so early in my professional career, was challenging and highly rewarding. I’m very grateful that I was able to have this accomplishment just three years after graduating from Ohio State. I can’t wait to see what the next few years have in store!
- – What inspires you in your profession?
Working hard at work worth doing and setting an example for others inspires me in my profession. Whether it’s breaking down complex issues for Congress or highlighting government accountability options for policy wonks, I want to be able to champion good government reforms and make more people aware of how corruption and abuse of power hurts us all. It’s also very important to me that I set an example for those looking to get into the legal and policy fields, both in my work as a Policy Counsel and in the mentoring space. Knowing what it took to get here and being real about the struggle is something that I want to be able to give back to others who are just starting out. If I can lift up another Buckeye to join me in this space, it makes it all worth it.
For more information about Melissa, or to connect with her, please visit her online here:
Twitter: @Melissa_Wasser (https://twitter.com/Melissa_Wasser)
LinkedIn: Melissa Wasser (https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissawasser/)
Instagram: @Melissa_Wasser (https://www.instagram.com/Melissa_Wasser/)
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