The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jeff Stupak

Jeff Stupak
Analyst in Macroeconomic Policy
Congressional Research Service

Degree & graduation year: Master of Public Policy & Administration, 2014

What I do: My day-to-day work involves responding to research requests from members of Congress, their personal staff, and committee staff. Many of the requests I respond to involve estimating the impact of specific policy proposals on the broader economy or summarizing economic data to characterize current macroeconomic conditions. Additionally, I write reports on various policy issues that are made available to Congress and their staff, including infrastructure investment, financial regulations, and economic growth.

How I got the job: After graduating from the School of Public Policy, I started at CRS as a research assistant working on tax policy and federal budgeting. After about two years, an analyst position was posted within my division. I applied for the position and had a bit of a leg up on my competition since I had already worked with most of my prospective coworkers.

The best part of my job: Working directly with members of Congress and their staff. I regularly meet with staffers to discuss current public policy and potential alternatives, walking them through how those changes would impact the program and potential impacts on the economy. It is very satisfying to assist legislators in making sound public policy.

A recent exciting work experience: I collaborated with researchers from the Urban Institute to utilize their micro-simulation model to estimate the impact of specific changes to the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit. Using their model, I was able to tweak aspects of the tax credits and estimate the impact on average benefit levels by income, changes in the number of recipients, and the overall cost of the tax credits. It was great having an opportunity to work with such an advanced model, and my analysis was used in the development of new legislation.

How the UMass School of Public Policy prepared me: The opportunity to be a teaching assistant and research assistant there was very beneficial when I entered the labor market. I went straight from undergrad to graduate school, so I didn't have much applicable work experience on my resume. While at SPP I was a research assistant my first year, then a teaching assistant for multiple classes in my second year. These experiences helped to fill out my resume and get my foot in the door at CRS.  

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy: While a degree will give you a great base of knowledge and skills, it's important to develop your own specialty to distinguish yourself from other new graduates. For example, I sought out multiple statistics and econometrics courses to strengthen my quantitative analysis skills. Select your courses purposefully, and don't be afraid to take some classes outside of SPP.

Future plans: I am looking for a new challenge right now. I have enjoyed my time working with the federal government, but it can be a bit dysfunctional and not much policy making is happening right now in Congress, so I am looking for new positions at the state level where I can get my hands dirty helping to craft sound public policy.