I’m Getting my MPA…Now What? Five Steps to Follow When Exploring Your Career Options

5302862115_8533bbb775Being a graduate student myself, I understand the pressures of trying to figure out what to do with your degree once you’ve received it. What am I going to do for work? What can I do with my degree? Will I even get a job? What do I want to do with my life? These are just some of the thoughts I found running through my head. Finally, I took some steps to ease my fears and I wanted to share them. So here they are, 5 easy steps to figuring out what to do with a Masters in Public Administration, MPA.

  1. Ask around: ask your advisor, ask your teachers, ask people you know with MPAs. Chances are that most, if not all, of those people have been in your position not too long ago. They remember what you’re feeling and they want to help. Advisors, mentors, and teachers will definitely have helpful resources that they can suggest. They have experience finding jobs and helping people plan their futures; this is why they are the first set of people you should contact.
  2. When in doubt, Google it: This is one step that I have definitely followed. Simply Google “Careers I can get with an MPA.” Many people have a specific concentration that they are studying within the realm of Public Administration, so it would be helpful to also Google the specific concentration. There are so many different ways in which a person with their MPA could use their degree. Many of these uses and possible careers vary greatly. Looking at all of the seemingly endless possibilities can really help to ease your fears about what type of jobs are out there and how many are out there. I know when looking at all of the possibilities I was personally relieved and very excited about what I could do with my degree.
  3. Intern: Internships can be an excellent way to figure out what you want to do with your degree. While searching for an internship you will be able to look around and see what types of jobs and organizations are out there in your field. This will give you an idea of what type of organization you want to intern, and eventually work for. You will be able to get an idea of what you like and what you dislike within the field of Public Administration. This will all come in handy when looking for an actual job. All of these benefits come from simply searching for an internship. The actual internship work will confirm your likes and dislikes within this field. It will allow you to get a look at the field of Public Administration from the inside and will additionally serve to ease your fears about what you will find out in the realm of Public Administration. Furthermore, it will give you experience with different situations and will help you to gain confidence, while allowing you to see what type of work is actually involved in being employed in this field. Additionally, it will serve as an excellent addition to your resume, which will make job hunting easier.
  4. business-316906_640Network, Network, Network: During your Master’s program, especially at your internship, you will be given plenty of opportunities to network. Take those opportunities! Networking is one of the most, if not the most important thing you can do to make your name known in your field and help yourself get a job in the future. Networking and getting to know different people and their organizations will help them to get to know you, just as much as it will help you to get to know them. It will lessen your fears about what different organizations are like and what the people involved with them are like, as well. It will also help to lessen your fears about not being able to get a job because it will help you to make new connections, which could be very useful in the future. These new connections could be future bosses, future references, or future colleagues. For this reason, networking is of the most importance.
  5. Use Career Services: To help you make your decision about what type of job you would like and to allow you to see just how many jobs are out there, career services, career forums, and career finder sites are the perfect tool. Many colleges and universities have career services for undergraduates and some even have career services for graduate students. If you’re lucky enough to be attending an institution that offers career services for their graduate students, definitely take advantage of it. This service will help you to improve your resume, look for jobs, and do many things that will make job hunting so much easier. Also, career finders online, such as Indeed, Monster, and Jobfinder can serve as not only a way to find actual job listings in your area, but also as a way to allow you to browse the types of jobs that are available in your field. This will allow you to get a feel for what is needed in the world of Public Administration today.

Each of these 5 steps will help you to ease your fears, set up a plan for your future employment, and connect with people and organizations that could be of great use to you not only in the beginning of your career, but well throughout it. Each of these steps is interconnected in one-way or another, but can each individually serve to make the journey through getting your MPA a little bit easier.

Post written by Stephanie Cox, MPA Graduate Student at Seton Hall University.

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