A Master of Public Administration from Seattle to Moscow to Olympia
Even if you do not become a Vandal until after you’ve completed your undergraduate degree, valuable opportunities remain at the University of Idaho as you grow your professional experience and expand your education. Elizabeth Popoff completed her bachelor’s degree in 2021 at the University of Washington in Seattle. She participated in a two-year program at UW after completing her Associates of Arts degree during high school. At U of I, she is pursuing her master’s degree in public administration.
Born in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Popoff’s family relocated to the Pacific Northwest early on in her life, settling in Washington’s Wenatchee Valley. She is proud to have attended a Pacific Northwest University, as she is the first in her family to do so.
“Public administration is something I see being amazing for me,” Popoff said.
According to Popoff, U of I’s Master of Public Administration (M.P.A. ) program was a good pair with her bachelor’s in communications. This has helped her further her knowledge and dive deeper into her interests.
The summer before beginning her program, Popoff was selected to be an M.P.A. Outreach Coordinator for U of I’s Career Services office, the first individual to hold the role. Responsibilities include helping students network with potential employers, creating program newsletters, spotlighting different internship and job opportunities, and consulting with students on their career goals. When not working directly to support M.P.A. students, Popoff assists with general Career Services events, resources, and programming.
“I want to shout out Eric Anderson, he has been my supervisor. He has been one of the most amazing mentors, pushing me to different boundaries,” Popoff said.
One of Popoff’s first responsibilities while working with Career Services was reaching out to different organizations to explore internship opportunities for M.P.A. students. She communicated with an active senator for the Washington State Legislature in Olympia to explore experiences available for students.
Eventually, the senator’s office reached out to Popoff with an offer to work for the legislature. Although Popoff experienced some doubts about accepting the opportunity, through support and encouragement from Anderson, her parents, and her partner, she relocated to Olympia to work as a session aide. During her time in Olympia, Popoff managed correspondences with the public including emails and voicemails, met with constituents, led meetings, and more, gaining valuable experience directly related to her master’s degree. “It was such an amazing thing, combining my public relation skills and my communication skills,” Popoff said.
She credits Career Services and U of I for securing the opportunity, commending how the office and university supports students and their goals.
“I think that’s a huge summary of University of Idaho, anything you put into the university, your academics, your support for athletics, your communications with professors, it’ll always come back to you,” Popoff said.
Flexible schedules allowed Popoff to pursue multiple opportunities at once at U of I. While working as an aide, she continued her work with the Career Services office and completed academic assignments.
“That was a huge reason why I was able to do that, leaning on that U of I support and mutual respect they had for my ambitions, but also keeping me accountable for the things I have to do as a student, also as an intern,” Popoff said. “That's something that I really respect and admire from the school.”
The greatest benefit she found working in Career Services was constant access to a trusted mentor, peer, or network. To newer students who are unsure of their career path or what their future holds, Popoff reassures them that things will fall into place.
“If you don't have a path right now, Career Services will help you put you on that path. When a door closes, a window opens and I think that is such an important thing to share, especially for undergraduates that may be graduating in the spring, or may have just started,” Popoff said.
As for Popoff’s future, she plans to return to the Washington State Legislature in January of 2023 to assume her role of a second-year session aide, an opportunity that may develop into a full-time position. She is also considering the potential of pursuing a doctorate degree.
“Right now, I’m excited to get to Olympia in January and start my position once again with my senator that I represent,” Popoff said. “Onwards and upwards from there.”
As of December 5th, Elizabeth Popoff has accepted an offer for a full-time position with the Washington State Legislature in Olympia.
Career Services Marketing Intern