Valerie Kasindi BS’01 MS’03

I took an unpaid internship and it ended up being instrumental in helping me get an interview and ultimately a position at GAO.

Home: Garland, Texas

UT Dallas Degree: B.S., Economics and Finance (Magna Cum Laude), 2001 & M.S., Applied Economics, 2003 
Profession: Senior Analyst, U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO)

My Work

As a senior analyst for the Government Accountability Office—an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress—I design and carry out program audits and evaluations on government agencies and programs. Being on the Homeland Security and Justice team within GAO, my audits focus on programs and operations within the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. I’ve worked on various audits including international container security, pipeline security, asset forfeiture programs, and most recently, inmate mental health services. An audit generally includes conducting in-depth research, gathering and analyzing data, interviewing agency officials and other stakeholders, conducting site visits, and finally drafting a report that is submitted to Congress and posted on our website. I’ve also assisted directors in preparing testimony for Congress.

Being a senior analyst at GAO has provided me the opportunity to see many areas of day-to-day government operations. I can’t think of any other job where I would have been able to observe seaport operations at an international seaport, security inspections of critical pipeline facilities, storage facilities containing millions of dollars of forfeited assets, and a psychiatric ward in a federal prison.

The Value of My Degree

First and foremost, the strong critical thinking skills I developed through the numerous courses I took in economics and political economy have been essential in making me successful as an analyst at GAO. Additionally, the technical skills I learned in my econometrics classes have been put to good use in analyzing program data.

My EPPS Success

The exceptional faculty at EPPS contributed greatly to my success. Several professors at the school provided me with guidance and encouragement when I needed it. Additionally, participating in study groups with my fellow students helped me tremendously in understanding course work.

Advice for EPPS Students

Take advantage of internships, even the unpaid ones if the position is right for you and will help you gain valuable experience. I took an unpaid internship and it ended up being instrumental in helping me get an interview and ultimately a position at GAO.