Gentile is using the skills she gained at Harris as an associate for Booz Allen Hamilton’s Civilian Services Group.
Headshot of Annie Gentile
Annie Gentile

Annie Gentile credits her time at Teach for America as the most influential reason for pursuing a degree and career in policy. “I wanted an experience that would challenge my worldview and allow me to contribute to something bigger than myself,” Gentile said.

Gentile joined Teach for America after graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in political science. “I began working as a fifth-grade ELA teacher at a charter school in Hartford, CT, 20 minutes from Southington, CT, where I grew up believing that everything was okay—that there were no major problems in the world. But when I started teaching, I realized that was not the case. My students lived in a food desert. I had one student whose house burned down, and her family experienced homelessness. The entire experience helped me grow both as a professional and a person.”

After spending three years teaching, Gentile found herself at a crossroads: “I was at the point where I felt I needed to commit to teaching or make a transition. I decided to take a step back and try to understand the district and state-level policies that impact everything else, and that’s when I started thinking about policy school.”

Gentile began applying for graduate schools in 2017 and was introduced to the Harris Master of Public Policy program through a friend. “I was immediately pulled in by the Harris mission to use data and analysis in policymaking. If anything summed up exactly what I was looking for, that was it. I wanted to be able to take data and tell a story to impact change, and that is what Harris promoted and delivered.”

Gentile currently works for Booz Allen Hamilton's Civilian Services Group as an Associate for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) account. She said that the skills she gained at Harris positioned her well to take on the role—even though she had no prior consulting experience.

“One obvious example of a Harris course I use often in my job is cost-benefit analysis. We support our client with regulatory work, and I’m able to read the work their actuary does and understand what is being written and how it applies. Typically, when you start in consulting you are not working with clients directly until three to six months in. I started working on and contributing to my contract with CMS one week after starting, and I completely attribute that to the skills I learned while at Harris.”

Another benefit Gentile found at Harris was the Policy Labs. “The opportunities to apply what I was learning in the classroom to real-world issues through the Policy Labs were invaluable. I got to practice exactly what I was learning and see how it all applied.”

Gentile also said the Career Development Office (CDO) supported her eventual career shift to consulting. “CDO sponsored the event where I was introduced to Booz Allen, and the CDO team was also a tremendous help throughout my entire career search, even up to negotiating my salary.”

Reflecting on her Harris experience, Gentile recommended that students “take full advantage of everything that is offered to you. Engage heavily in the coursework, outside events and groups, and the community at large.”