Making the Most of a Full-time MPP Program
March 10, 2013 1:04 PM Subscribe
I recently accepted an offer for a spot in a full time MPP program from a very decent, non-Ivy school. My funding (per an assistantship or researcher position) reduces the total tuition to approximately $3000, and the program provides an allowance for an unpaid or poorly paid summer internship. I have enough money saved to avoid going into debt if I work part time. I want to offset the opportunity costs of two years outside of work by making myself as employable as possible.
posted by pinterecki to Education (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I do not have a stipend to cover costs of living, but I have sufficient savings to graduate without going into debt and a good chance of getting a relevant part time job as a project coordinator with a nearby nonprofit due to past professional experiences and networking. I'm currently looking for additional scholarships and finding very few geared towards MPPs (any advice would be appreciated).
I'm 27. My undergraduate major was English and my GPA was 3.2, which explains why I did not get a full ride and (I think) why it would not be a good idea to hold off in the hopes of a better offer. I spent a year teaching English in Korea and decided that it provided little in the way of stimulation or career prospects, so I left it with the knowledge that I could always come back to it.
I started working as an entry level payment analyst for a decent company. The pay (28K per year, not including overtime) urged me to apply for other jobs within the company and outside of it, but the results were negligible (a few interviews and a lot of no-responses). I started to take community college classes in statistics and economics using our company's tuition reimbursement plan, and also began volunteering with several community ESL groups as a process coordinator and program manager.
I did this to improve myself first, to further my career prospects second, and to help the community third. I wanted to emphasize that order because, although I'm very interested in programs and institutions slated to advance the standards of living for a wide demographic, I think it's also important to portray myself as a person interested in personal and professional advancement if I'm going to get useful answers.
I've researched the positions which interest me, but I'm not limiting myself to them because of what I assume will be intense competition for employment and the likelihood that I will encounter additional organizations fulfilling similar purposes. The MPP program is three hours outside of D.C., which is probably where I would like to end up, and makes trips to the city on Fridays for lectures, policy seminars and networking. With that said, the following employers appeal to me; with the exceptions of SIGTARP, specific NGOs and specific non-profits, my program has placed its graduates into jobs within these organizations:
U.S. Department of State: Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement or FSO (Economics Cone)
The World Bank
Think Tanks focusing on anti-corruption measures (please suggest some)
Watchdog Groups focusing on anti-corruption measures (please suggest some)
The Open Society Institute or one of its associated programs (please suggest more)
Transparency International Secretariat or one of its associated programs (please suggest more)
The Mines Advisory Group or one of its associated programs (please suggest more)
Danish Church Aid, Amnesty International, and organizations like them (please suggest more)
D.C. Based Consulting Firms
As you can see, I'm shooting for the moon. Wait until you see my personal and academic goals below. At present, my primary goal is to narrow my focus and minimize my risk through advice from the community. With that said, please help me plan my academic and professional schedules so that
I will be able to:
1.Graduate near the top of my class with publications in hand
2.Network effectively to ensure interviews, internships, and job prospects
3.Select relevant courses emphasizing hard skills (statistics and statistics software, econometrics, modeling)
4.Continue to develop soft skills (leadership, program management, process coordination)
and I'd also like to:
1.Begin a mutual fund, money-market, or otherwise useful investment to complement my IRA
2.Learn to code in a useful language
3.Take a 3 sequence Calculus series, Linear Algebra, and Real Analysis classes (or something similar to improve the chances of a.) acceptance to MSc programs for Statistics or b.) passing actuarial exams.)
4.Earn a PMI or Six Sigma certification
and it would be nice to:
1.Improve my Flamenco
2.Advance from intermediate Spanish to working fluency and pick up another language
3.Continue to train for triathlons and MMA
4.Eat a lot of Indian and Thai food.
Still reading? Here are the minimum elective courses I would like to take aside from the required core module (please offer advice to round out potential gaps in skills):
1.Cross Section Econometrics.
2.Time Series Econometrics.
3.International Trade: Theory and Policy.
4.Forecasting Methods and Applications
5.International Trade Law
6.Operations Research: Deterministic Models
7.Operations Research: Stochastic Models
Final word: I've been thinking about this program for a long time, and I'm trying to do my best to prepare myself for a quantitative focus by re-learning calculus before matriculating. If you have any advice as to which additional community college courses I should take in the summer interim between now and starting the program (and the summer interim during my internship), I'm all ears. Please keep in mind that I'll be working full time.
It's difficult not to see this program as a second chance for a shot at a stable, stimulating career that pays more than $50k per year. Because of this, I worry that I may be avoiding acknowledgement of the opportunity costs incurred by enrolling- I'd like to hear that side of the argument as well.
Thanks in advance,