The Pipeline to a Public Policy Career — Informational Interview #2

One of the most convenient aspects about the Regional Chamber of Commerce in regards to the requirements of this course was the ease in finding connections – primarily due to the fact that we had weekly policy committee meetings that were attended by representatives from many businesses and organizations. One such instance occurred during our June “Energy and Water” Committee Meeting, where we had a representative from HPA&E (not the actual name due to anonymity) come in to make a presentation on a new pipeline project the company was working on. For the sake of anonymity, this representative from HPA&E will be referred to as Edward. Generally, I’m not the type of person who’s interested in energy policy or the particulars of infrastructural work – I’ve always been more attuned to defense and foreign policy academically. However, Edward had the unique gift of making almost everything in his presentation interesting (likely due to the diverse nature of his audience), thus sparking a genuine captivation in the specifics of how pipelines are approved and the processes associated with them — in terms of the regulations governing its construction.

I met with Edward for the informational interview in the midst of Comic-Con week in San Diego – the streets were abuzz with numerous costumed people and much fanfare. I made my way to the brand new Energy building, which was positioned near the Convention Center. The Building’s namesake is the parent company of HPA&E and is technically a for-profit company – however its for-profit nature is stymied by the amount of regulations that the state government has imposed on it. I was surprised to discover that Edward was a public policy major like me, which made sense once I discovered that he managed case regulations at HPA&E. Edward had previously worked at a prominent tech company in the same type of regulatory role – which proved to me that a public policy major can make an illustrious career in the private sector too! Edward also dove into the particulars of his work and his project, and told me more about the pipeline project he had explained to me a month earlier.

What really struck me about Edward’s job however was how it seemed to resemble the role of a lobbyist – although in this case, Edward was a lobbyist to both the government and the people. Edward had to provide the state and local governments with information regarding the pipeline projects themselves, and he also has to win over public opinion as well by having events in neighborhoods that may be affected by certain energy projects. Obviously, many people are not too keen about having projects in their neighborhoods, but the local governments often realize the necessity of such projects, even if they’d prefer that the projects go somewhere else. Edward’s job is also significant in that he is the direct link for HPA&E to the general public — too often people have received information from third parties who are often biased in one way or the other. Therefore, Edward is now able to provide HPA&E’s own opinion and the particulars of their projects, without any third party influence. Too often in our society, we have often portrayed the typical public policy major’s future as one filled with governmental affairs, and as a degree that will forever be stuck in the public sector. As Edward’s career has proven, this couldn’t be further from the truth — and it has opened up many possibilities for potential careers to me.

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