University at Albany

Q & A With Jennifer O’Connor Teepe, MPA ‘01
HR Specialist 2, NYS Office of General Services

Why did you choose Rockefeller?

Jennifer: Best bang for my buck! I knew I wanted to live/work in Albany, and I knew I wanted a career in the public sector. Rockefeller offered me the opportunity to attend a top-ranked program, at in-state tuition prices, in the city I call home. Not to mention, it also offered me terrific internship and networking opportunities that helped me find my passion and got me my first full time position.

What about working in policy analytic field inspires/excites you?

Jennifer: I like that there is not a tangible bottom line, but that what I am doing contributes to society as a whole.  I had left the public sector for a short time to take a private sector human resources position, and while I liked the position itself and I liked the organization I worked for, at the end of the day, it all came down to dollars in and dollars out.  And while I understand that is important, it didn't feel right to me.  I rejoined the public sector soon after I came to this realization.

If you had to condense your job description into an elevator pitch, how would it read?

Jennifer: I help managers by being a strategic partner in helping to build their organizations, serving as a resource in Civil Service law and rules, as well as federal laws, rules, and regulations. I assist managers in recruitment of staff and creation of new positions that will help these organizations achieve their mission.

How did Rockefeller College prepare you for your career?

Jennifer: I loved that many of the classes were taught by practitioners in the field. For example, my public finance class was taught by a retired director of administration of a State agency. My local government administration classes were taught by a retired county manager. We were given a solid foundation in the academic side with the terrific tenured staff, while also being given a solid foundation in what would be expected of us as future program administrators. 

What’s your favorite Rockefeller memory?

Jennifer: I began my program thinking I wanted to do something much different than where I ended up. My favorite memory was walking into David Liebschutz's office - at the time, he was the career services director for Rockefeller - bewildered that I had found a path I enjoyed (for the record, it was at the Classification and Compensation Division at the NYS Department of Civil Service), and that it was so different than what it was I thought that I wanted. I was in my last semester of graduate school, and while in hindsight obviously the answer was to just go with it and be thrilled I found something I loved, I wasn't sure what to do with this. David's advice was to relax, be happy, and keep doing what I was doing. I was fortunate enough to be hired by C&C full time, and from there have continued my career in public sector human resources. However, aside from this, I also remember feeling very fortunate that I had an excellent support network of advisors to help me find my path, many with whom I am still in touch.