ASU alumna pursues career in public affairs and policy

By

Amanda Stoneman

At the intersection of two bachelor’s degrees in political science and journalism plus a Master of Public Policy, an Arizona State University alumna pursued a career path in the public affairs and policy arena.

“All my degrees had a hand in who I am as a professional,” said Carly Fleege, public affairs associate at Hamilton Consulting. “They were all valuable.”

In 2009, Fleege completed her undergraduate degrees in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. At the height of the Great Recession, employment opportunities were bleak. Fleege worked for her parents’ company in her home state of Idaho for nine months before returning to Arizona to seek paid internships in government or politics.  

“I was still having a hard time finding a job, which for someone like me — your quintessential overachiever and perfectionist — was an emotional experience,” said Fleege.

Fleege secured an internship with Veridus, a local lobbying and public affairs firm. She helped compile biographical information regarding state legislative candidates for the Purple Book, a comprehensive reference guide for Arizona elections. Fleege said she noticed the candidates with public/governmental affairs experience or who worked in policy had degrees in public administration or public policy so she decided to pursue additional education and get a Master of Public Policy at ASU.

“I had always planned on pursuing additional education; I just thought I would try and get real-world practical work experience before heading back into academia,” said Fleege. “My plan was not exactly how I had envisioned, but it ended up working out pretty well for me.”

After graduating with a master’s in public policy, Fleege was an intern for the legislative liaison at the Arizona Department of Administration. Her internship turned into a full-time assistant legislative liaison position, and she later became the main legislative liaison. She spent three years with the department before finding her current job in public affairs with Hamilton Consulting.

“I love what I do. Every day is different, and it challenges me,” said Fleege. “It’s just fascinating to be in the middle of the political process at the state level.”

Fleege said her everyday tasks include tracking bills as they make their way through the legislative process; meeting with legislators to advocate on behalf of clients at municipal and state levels of government; and handling the communication-related aspects of public affairs.

“My political science degree definitely gave me a breadth of knowledge about government and politics, the interaction between the two, information about our political system and how the process works,” said Fleege. “My public policy degree focused a bit more on analytical skills, and my journalism degree focused a great deal on communication. They all helped shape the way I approach issues in my job.”

Fleege said she’s focused on growing in the public affairs and public policy arena. She wants more experience and exposure in the field.

“I want to become more indispensable, an expert in this area,” said Fleege. “I’m definitely nowhere near expertise at this point, but to get there would be great.”

Fleege also volunteers on the communications committee for the Welcome to America Project, a nonprofit organization that provides furniture, basic necessities and additional resources to newly arriving refugees.

“It’s a great organization. You are not only bringing physical household items to families in need, but you’re able to give them a sense of hope that they are welcome in this country,” said Fleege. “I’ve always loved volunteer work. It’s a tangible way to feel connected to the community, give back to those who have less than me and ultimately make a difference.”