Kandala is intent on understanding media effects and using the data skills he acquires in the MSCAPP to do research on polling, attitude surveying, and information flows.
Headshot of Rohit Kandala
Rohit Kandala

“My favorite book growing up was the encyclopedia,” said Rohit Kandala, MSCAPP Class of 2024. “I just wanted to know about everything, and I was especially interested in history, since the present is a product of the past.” This interest led Kandala to pursue a bachelor’s in history from the University of Connecticut. He completed his degree in 2019 with minors in communications and philosophy.

“Communications was very different from the humanities work I was doing,” Kandala said, “and I realized I was more and more interested in why the past is written a certain way. I had intended to go into policy after completing my bachelor’s, but after seeing how vital media portrayals of our politics are, I decided to go into the work of political profiles to better inform people.”

Kandala joined SBDigital, a political communications agency, as an Advertising Associate in 2020 and has since been promoted to Senior Digital Associate. “Most of my job is to decide how to allocate money to reach our clients’ desired audiences.” Kandala’s voice proved influential in the firm’s decision to start providing real-time data dashboards to clients. “I created one dashboard for a client campaigning in northern Virginia, and it has now become a standard at our firm. Those types of metrics show the client why our service is worth it to them.

“However,” Kandala said, “I’m now at a point in my career where I want to learn more about data. Data will have to adapt in order for us to engage civically with the public. Things like privacy regulations will continue to be a factor, but we still need to communicate with the voting age public. Data determines who we talk to and how we talk to them.” When researching programs, Kandala felt the Master of Science in Computational Analysis and Public Policy at Harris offered him the most established and thorough option to work with and communicate data.

“I wanted something beyond a traditional policy degree that would force me to think across disciplines, and the MSCAPP’s heavy quantitative focus is also incredibly versatile and applicable across many industries.”

Kandala seeks to better understand media effects and use the data skills he acquires during the program to do research on polling, attitude surveying, and information flows. “I’m joining Harris to be able to do policy analysis well by combining quantitative and qualitative methods.” To that end, Kandala is also interested in the Certificate in Survey Research and getting involved with the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago.

“UChicago houses some of the greatest minds in political communication and political strategies. The University is renowned for its scientific approach to human behavior and decision making—two things that are integral for us to understand in communication. I am looking forward to learning in such an environment.”

Kandala also said he is looking forward to engaging in critical discussions within his cohort through student organizations like Minorities in Public Policy Studies, Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, and the Chicago Policy Review.