By Kaine Korzekwa
Working in public service was a lifelong interest for Erin Probst, and her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs made it a reality.
Probst followed up undergraduate degrees in political science and journalism with a master’s degree in public affairs from La Follette in 2006. She then landed her current job as a fiscal analyst at the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, where she has been for almost 10 years.
“My job as a fiscal analyst allows me to serve in a non-partisan legislative service agency,” Probst explains. “I really work for all 132 members of the legislature and in turn try to best serve all of the residents of my state.”
The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau serves as a resource on financial issues for the entire legislature. Probst’s program area is natural resources so she works primarily with bills that deal with outdoor recreations, such as parks, forests, and stewardship programs. For example, she wrote an in-depth paper on the proposal to cut state funding support for state parks.
“I did a lot of community service and it was such a great experience. There are just so many places you can put yourself out there and I think it really shaped what kind of career I wanted to have and allowed me to get started on it.”
She works to summarize what a bill does and its fiscal effect. The bureau will also write memos at the request of legislators. During budget season, they also work to provide in-depth synopsis of a two-year period of revenue and expenses to serve as a resource for policymakers.
“Legislators are always encouraged to call and ask us fiscal questions,” she says. “I always wanted to do a public service job and do something that matters for other people. I feel like I provide legislators with non-partisan facts to help them make informed decisions.”
She adds that she likes the flexibility of the career path she chose and is thankful her master’s degree gave her skills to perform research and problem solve. While at UW–Madison she participated in a lot of service learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom.