As a recent graduate of the Humphrey School’s Master of Public Policy program, Lindsey Erdmann is settling into her new role at the city of Minneapolis as the budget and evaluation analyst for Policy and Engagement, and is looking back at her two years at the School.
“The three main pieces of my portfolio include legislative management, policy analysis, and public engagement,” Erdmann says. “This new role, which is new to the city as well, is a good fit for me and the skill sets that I got at the Humphrey School–combined with my prior career experience.”
Working as a budget analyst hadn’t been Erdmann’s initial career pursuit. But through various internships and advice from the School’s Career and Student Success team, she found avenues to apply her expertise and passions.
A US Marine Corps veteran, Erdmann was named a Pat Tillman Scholar in 2021, one of 60 recipients nationwide. She also received a merit scholarship, and says those financial support systems enabled her to explore her interests and try new things while earning her master’s degree.
Gaining real-world experience
“I interned at the city of Minneapolis at the end of my first year as a master’s student. I did that through the summer as the graduate capital budget intern, where I was working for a Humphrey School alum doing financial analysis and ad hoc policy analysis,” she says. “This type of work was something I had never really considered, but I went ahead and applied—and got it. In the time I was there, I felt like—as an intern—I made an impact and a contribution.”
Following her internship at the city, Erdmann continued her journey by interning at Cargill, working for a Humphrey School alum who is also a Pat Tillman scholar. She later became a research assistant for the University of Minnesota's Center for Urban and Regional Affairs.
As she completed her degree, an exciting new position opened on the city's budget team, leading Erdmann back to where her passion lay. This newly created role as the budget and evaluation analyst for policy and engagement allowed her to apply her skills and knowledge in a dynamic and challenging environment.
The value of a Humphrey School education
Erdmann says her master's degree from the Humphrey School has been instrumental in her current role.
"I use my degree every day, with my critical analysis skills and how I approach problems," she says. "The Humphrey School grounded me and gave me a better understanding of how you break issues down to their root causes."
Throughout her academic and professional journey, Erdmann has learned to appreciate the pragmatic steps and processes involved in driving meaningful change with various stakeholders. Her leadership experiences during graduate school, where she organized study sessions and championed inclusivity, were bolstered by the valuable lessons she acquired from her military and previous professional experience.
“I came into graduate school very bright-eyed and bushy-tailed about how the world can be, and I still believe the world can be a better place and our community can be a better place,” she says. “My education grounded me in the realistic steps and processes of stakeholders and the actions that it takes to make change. It's not as simple as saying, 'We want more affordable housing, so let's do it.' It's a much more complex issue.”
Embracing growth and pursuing diverse knowledge
One significant lesson Erdmann learned during her second year at the Humphrey School was to be satisfied with completing assignments that are "good enough." This valuable insight, shared by one of her instructors, social scientist Angie Fertig, challenged her own drive toward perfectionism to avoid burnout along the way.
“I learned that good enough is better than perfection. You just have to know when a project or a report is good enough and move to the next thing.”
Above all, Erdmann says studying a range of subjects can be a benefit for students as they enter the workforce as practitioners.
“I’d tell students to take classes outside of the Humphrey School. I took two at the Carlson School [of Management] and I felt like it gave me a great perspective on topics that we talk about, but from a business perspective.”
Erdmann’s journey illustrates the power of a master's degree in public policy from the Humphrey School. Her experiences and the skills she acquired during her studies have laid a strong foundation for her current role.