Experience federal policy immersion at LBJ's Washington Center

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July 12, 2022

After a decade of experience in state and local government, government affairs professional Eric Bustos packed his bags to live, study and work in the nation’s capital.

“Before attending the LBJ School, I spent a decade working in government affairs in Austin primarily focused on the state and local level,” said Eric Bustos, a public affairs student in the DC Concentration.

Eric worked in Government Affairs at CapMetro, a public transportation provider in Austin. He also had experience working in the Texas Legislature and on political campaigns. 

“My experience at the local and state level was great,” he said. “Local government is the closest to the people, so you get to see in real time how your policy decisions affect people's lives.”

But he craved experience at the federal level. 

"I wanted to do two things: I wanted to get my Master's, and I wanted to work and live in DC, so the LBJ DC Concentration seemed like the perfect fit.” Eric Bustos

“I didn't have as well-rounded government affairs experience as I could in that I hadn't worked in Washington DC and been on the ground here,” Eric said. “I wanted to do two things: I wanted to get my Master's after years of thinking about it, and I wanted to work and live in DC and get that federal government experience, so for me the LBJ DC Concentration seemed like the perfect fit.”

Eric moved to Washington in May 2022. He said it’s been akin to his undergraduate study abroad experience in that it has been an immersive experience with a small, tight knit cohort. 


Group of students pose smiling in front of Washington Monument at night


“I studied abroad in undergrad and that's kind of what it feels like because our cohort is a close community, having this experience of being in DC together," Eric said. "There is no substitute for the immersive experience of studying federal policy while living and working in DC.” 

Eric is currently taking a class on How Washington Works while working at the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) as a senior legislative representative on the government affairs and advocacy team. APTA is a nonprofit group that promotes and advocates for the interests of the US’ public transportation industry.


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“I feel like experience at the local level has been one of the strengths that I bring to my policy apprenticeship,” he said. “From local to federal the language is different. Everyone has their own way of doing things and their own acronyms and way of talking about things, and before, sometimes it wasn’t always easy to change what language I was speaking. Now it’s easier for me to jump from different conversations and understand connections and how to work together to deliver outcomes.”

“For me, coming here, I feel like I’m finally getting that third leg of the stool, so to speak. I feel more balanced and ready to take on any challenge,” Eric said. 

He said his cohort has also opened his mind to different opportunities in the federal policy space. 


LBJ DC stand and pose in front of a sign at Gettysburg


“Everyone is doing different stuff. Some people are on the Hill. Some people are working at organizations like mine. Some people are working at lobbying firms. And so hearing everyone's different experience exposes you to possibilities you may want to explore someday,” he said.

He said DC-area alumni have also provided similar insight. “Meeting alumni, finding out where they work and what their actual day to day sounds like has been pretty revelatory. There are so many great opportunities here.”

He said people interested in the DC Concentration should know they aren’t alone when moving to Washington. 

“The strength of the alumni network here and their willingness to help you is already apparent in the first few weeks here,” he said. “You're not moving up here on your own. there's a support network here and they try their best to connect you.” 

“The strength of the alumni network here and their willingness to help you is already apparent in the first few weeks here." Eric Bustos

“I think one of the reasons I ultimately picked LBJ and one of the things I was looking for outside of the career goals and the academic goals is I wanted to have a very close knit community experience,” he said. “It was clear to me that LBJ was going to offer that.”

Eric will complete his Master’s of Public Affairs DC Concentration this year and graduate in December. From there, he said he’s staying open to the possibilities, though he has a passion for advocacy work and government affairs. 

“As long as the cause is good and aligns with my values, I see myself doing government relations and government affairs work,” he said. “But I want to be open to as many opportunities and policy areas as I can and really see where that takes me.” 

Learn more about the LBJ School’s Washington Center and its 15-month federal policy track. 

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