Semester in DC: Alumni Spotlight - Pranay Vaddi
As a Foreign Affairs/Legislative Management Officer at the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Legislative Affairs, Pranay Vaddi ’10 describes his job as coordinating, facilitating and prioritizing information for the Hill about the State Department’s arms control, counter-terrorism, cyber Security and other programs.
Pranay used his Semester in D.C. experience to expand his network, obtain a Presidential Management Fellowship, and start his career in Washington. Vaddi and four fellow Pitt Law students moved to Washington in the fall of 2009 as part of the inaugural Semester in D.C. class.
During his 3L fall semester, Pranay worked with U.S. Senator for Pennsylvania Bob Casey, as a legal extern. There, he primarily handled health care and employment issues, because he was there was during the health care reform process. He recalls being treated like another staffer: drafting talking points, researching and writing remarks for personal interviews, and working with senior staff and the Senator himself. Pranay knew he wanted to be in D.C. after he graduated because of his positive experience living and working in D.C. full-time as a student.
“The Semester in D.C. Program was absolutely critical to getting my current position. You can accomplish so much more in one semester than law students undergoing standard coursework by being in the Program, because you are advancing your career while you are still in law school. Hill experience helps open doors here; government and legislative affairs impact the affairs of every company and every industry. Getting that experience let people know that I understood the congressional and legislative process and could work to apply that to their particular industry. The Program is a nice return on your investment in law school; with it you are better set to get a job when you graduate. The Semester in D.C. is one of those programs that resulted in tangible benefits to getting a job. It opened enough doors that I actually had some negotiation leverage in a poor job climate for determining where I wanted to be after school.”
As a Biochemistry and Political Science major at the University of Rochester, Pranay has the technical and scientific skills for his career. However, he will be the first to tell you of the importance of gaining practical experience in different job settings, so that you can lead a fulfilled life. “Take away something from each experience. Whether you love it or hate it, what you gain are tools that go into the skills box, and you can pull them out when you need them,” he says. He advocates that law students utilize their social networks, those of Pitt Law alumni or other professionals, so that they can find positions that they are excited about. He remembers the Semester in D.C. Seminar Speaker Series as one of best moments for students to get a personal impression of someone who went through the hiring process, a chance for students to talk to someone who makes it seem achievable.
Pranay now lives in Cleveland Park and is still enjoying all of the great social and cultural experiences D.C. has to offer. As a Presidential Management Fellow, he has had the opportunity to work in different federal agencies while still calling Washington “home.”