Which field should I pursue--information architecture or public health program evaluation? Two very different directions, and I'm not sure how to decide between them for graduate school and my career path.
After much contemplation, I think I've narrowed down my career interests to two different directions: Information Architecture or Public Health. Each would take me in a very different direction, and I'd love to hear your thoughts on which one would be a better fit for me.
Quick background: Mid-20's, BA in a social science. Since graduating 4 years ago, I've worked in informal education. My current job has provided a wide range of opportunities and time to explore what I do and don't want out of my future working years.
In an ideal world, here are the key qualities that I want in my job:
- Autonomy and the ability to work on projects independently
- Lots of opportunities to solve complex problems
- Logical analysis and application of logical reasoning skills
- Experiment Design
- Program/product evaluation
- Minimal to zero supervision of other employees. I much prefer to focus my energies on my own projects instead of overseeing subordinates.
- Provides a positive impact to others. It's hard to imagine not having a job that helps create a greener planet, healthier populations, less poverty, or more educational opportunities.
That said, here's what appeals to me about each field:
I'm drawn to IA because it seems to involve a lot of logical thinking about how to organize information and how different pieces of knowledge relate to each other. Plus, categorizing different types of information sounds like it would be mentally engaging. I also get the impression that it would fulfill my interest in working independently and evaluating programs or websites from a user experience perspective. There might also be the chance to work on a contract basis or freelance. Sadly, it seems like an IA career wouldn't have much overlap with issues like education, health, income inequality, etc. If I go this route, I would probably decide to apply to an iSchool for an MSIS or MLIS.
Public Health--Program Evaluation:
In current and past jobs, I've thoroughly enjoyed any opportunity to do research and evaluation. I love the investigation aspect, designing a logically rigorous study, and interpreting the results. And then there's the chance to improve a program based on actual data and facts instead of hunches. Since the same analytical skills could be applied to different public health programs, I think it could offer a lot of variety. And community/population health has been a steady concern and interest of mine for a few years now. The big downside is that I'd probably have less autonomy in working for the government or a nonprofit. I'm also not sure how many jobs are out there for people who want to evaluate public health initiatives. With this route, I'd apply for an MPH focusing on Health Behavior and Community Health.
Which do you think would be the best option for me? Perhaps there are other avenues that would fulfill my needs that I should consider instead? I feel like this decision should be easier, since the fields are so different, but I can easily talk myself into both of them!