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Castro also learned from Lowenthal about the value of
communicating with people. "He knows who's the right person
to talk to at a particular moment, which enables him to state issues
directly without going through people who don't have the power or
the position to help," she says. "I've always approached
people before, but knowing Abe has backed up my tendency."
Networking is crucial for upcoming graduates, but for many, a
first-rate career is often a question of geography: Networking among
mentors and students on the East Coast, for example, has traditionally
been more intense than on the West. So it's not surprising that
helping students get key internships in Washington, D.C., was one
of the central challenges for senior fellow Barbara Nunberg, a public-sector
specialist with the World Bank. Besides discussing critical policy
issues that her three students encountered in their course work,
Nunberg advised them on approaches to take when they acted like
consultants in client-focused projects.
"What they are doing is fantastic," Nunberg says. But
she is concerned that while her protégés have done
a lot of work on domestic matters, "they have not had as much
exposure to applied international-development issues." The
best thing for them, Nunberg suggests, would be to "get their
feet wet working in international organizations — and that
is the beauty of an internship."
Access to the right people matters greatly in
public policy. "The problem with public policy [as it is taught
in the classroom] is that it doesn't tell you the lay of the land,"
says Ayappa Ponnappa Biddanda, a first-year student of policy studies.
"It's not very good at telling you how things are to be done."
For Biddanda, knowing the "how" of public policy is vital,
not least because the focus of his studies is how the arts and popular
culture improve community life and help shape public policy.