I am currently considering an MPA program but didn’t wish to permanently lock myself into government positions. Can the skills found in an MPA have appeal and marketability outside of government service?
One other thing about "government contract jobs. I thought my dream job would be a government contract. I finally got one as a safety consultant for the FAA. It was a 5 year contract I was told. BUT that isn't the case and this is applicable to a lot of government contract positions. The contract covers a five year period BUT each year is a "PHASE" Phase one, phase two, etc. What this means it the contract is bid on EACH YEAR and your company will have to fight for the contract every year. Not much stability in that world. ALSO, there are a flood of servicemembers flooding the Wash DC area and I see jobs that keep popping up (I was a safety manager for 35 years) for the same position on about a 6 month cycle. This is because an "officer" comes out of the military service and gets a job at the Navy Yard. The pressure is off to get a job and the officer is happy. Then he or she finds out it is NOT like the military and also finds out that there is better money to be made. My advice is to accept any job with a plan to use it as a stepping stone to a better job. Use it to put bullet points on your resume. Good Luck!
I recently graduated with an MPA and there are skills that definitely have appeal and marketability outside of government service. In my class, people have gone into nonprofit consulting, foundations, grant making, and developing their own social enterprises.
Generally speaking, nonprofits have the greatest cross over in appeal and marketability of the skills you learn in an MPA program. Nonprofits are always looking for people who understand development, finance, operations, and other such skills since there's a smaller pool of qualified candidates versus the private sector. I would research the schools that you are interested in to review their core curriculum and potential electives to get an idea of what they offer. In addition, request to speak to past alumni, schools are always eager to promote their alumni and people love talking about themselves and their careers. If the school offers particular specializations, consider what would have the most general appeal and marketability. Also, see if there are courses cross listed between schools. Some people in my class took classes at the business school, the college of arts & sciences, and the law school.
Good luck in your search for the right MPA program and school!
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