The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Tyler Wolanin

Tyler Wolanin
Research Assistant
The Congressional Research Service

Degree & graduation year: Master of Public Policy and Administration, 2018

What I do: I perform research and compile and analyze data to support research analysts in the Congress and the Judiciary Section (of the Government and Finance Division) to give them the needed tools to respond to Congressional requests and produce CRS written products.

How I ended up working there: I found the position on LinkedIn while searching for a way to continue my public policy work in the legislative sector, after having previously worked as a researcher and bill drafter at the New Jersey Office of Legislative Services. The CRS team was impressed by my experience there and by some of the independent research projects I had undertaken.

The best part of my job: As someone who came to public service through political campaign work, I am happy for the opportunity to work directly on election policy and keep abreast of the latest developments. I am also very pleased to be back in DC (having studied here as an undergrad) and back on Capitol Hill.

A recent exciting work experience: I only recently started my position, so it has been interesting to receive background information on the work CRS does to support members of Congress and on its place within the larger institution of the Library of Congress. I am looking forward to exploring more of the Library and the Capitol complex’s built environment once COVID-19 lockdowns end.

How the School of Public Policy prepared me for my career: SPP gave me the familiarity with data analysis in a public policy context, and with research and reviews of public policy literature, necessary to succeed at my current position. Additionally, though I don’t perform any legislative drafting in my current job, it was an important component of my prior job, and I received my first education in that subject at SPP as well.

Advice to students considering a degree in public policy: I have found in all of my past positions that it helps to have a solid knowledge of the structure of whatever relevant government organs you are studying or working with. In other words: Memorize the org chart! Make sure you know the decision-making processes and the entities responsible for implementation, and especially make sure that you know the differences between entities that may seem superficially similar. Even if the situation in the field isn’t strictly by the book, this knowledge give you the grounding that you need to better understand your own role.

Future plans: After my posting at CRS concludes, I am hoping to continue working in the legislative sector, either in Washington or perhaps at home in New England.