Coming to a Close: Capstone

When Capstone is almost over…you know grad school is almost over.

Capstone is the culminating experience that is every SPEA student’s delight <slightest bit of sarcasm>. You’re thrown together with people from all concentrations, to work on a project about which you probably have no prior knowledge. And because the professors are crazy, they expect you to produce a publishable final product in 16 weeks. Whether you’re working as consultants for a local government or nonprofit organization, or you’re contributing new research to the field, the expectation is that you gain a ton of knowledge and learn how to work with people. It is painful at times…

But it has also been incredibly rewarding. My Capstone has been studying the financial crisis. Six groups studied the crisis from six difference perspectives: the banks, the Fed, the federal government, etc. We have all finished presenting our research to the class, and are polishing our papers which are due during finals week. All in all, we will have produced over 200 pages of information — some creating econometric models explaining what happened and why, others suggesting changes in policy to ensure against such a meltdown in the future.

Through my Capstone experience, though, what I have learned the most hasn’t dealt with public finance. It has been how to work with people, how to avoid micromanaging, how to delegate properly, how to play to people’s strengths…the list goes on. Interpersonal stuff that you can’t possibly learn from a textbook. I leave Capstone far better prepared to be a contributing member of any workplace than my colleagues who have never encountered such a trying, stressful situation. And that’s the point — to leave SPEA prepared to make a meaningful contribution, wherever we go.

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