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ishs

Can too much and too varied work experience hurt admissions chances?

10 posts in this topic

Hi,

I graduated from my bachelors (BA in Social Sciences) in 2013. When I graduated I was very confused about what I wanted to do, so I decided to move home and work for a before applying for Masters.

I took a job in market (qualitative) research about a month after graduating - mostly because of a general interest in culture and human psychology. I stuck around for 2 years because I was told it wouldn't look good if I left earlier, but by the end of it I was sure I did not want to make it a career. I then went into brand consulting, but left after 8 months because the place I worked at was not well managed at all - there were frequent (very) late nights, having to do work that I did not have the skills for and lack of proper training and poor management meant that I was absolutely burnt out by the end of those 8 months. So I quit without another job in hand or a back up plan, which they say you should never do, and took 2 months to just recuperate.

I then (on a whim, really) applied for an internship at a think tank in my city where I worked on the website and editorial team - collecting and creating content. I enjoyed this much more than my previous 2 jobs (I think I just liked the people I was working with much more). At this point, aware that I had already worked at 3 different places, I began to feel the pressure to commit to a field of study for my Masters, so I "chose" public policy, even though I haven't actually worked in a policy research think tank and am still not 100% sure I'm passionate about the subject.

I am now looking to apply for Masters in Public Policy for fall 2018. To fill my time until then, as I realize most places will not hire someone just for a year, nor do I want to get into the rigmarole of settling into a full time job, I am looking to apply for policy research internships. However, this will mean that I have worked at 4 different places in as many years.

How bad will this look on my application? Will universities be wary and think my application looks scattered and confused based on all the different places I have worked?

Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you!

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You are at the beginning of your career and looks like you've been staying at each place for more than 6 months so school are not going to penalize you for that. 

I would like you to think harder about your programs though. Is public policy really what you would like to do or are you more interested in organizational psyc? Most of the things that you've been involved so far points to organizational behavior/marketing. While Masters in Public Policy is a great choice for a stable career, I just wanted you to think about what your passion or goal is.

It is great that you are thinking about getting more experience in public policy through internship though! That would definitely help :) 

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You seem to be doing a lot of things out of a sense of obligation to some shadowy unnamed force. I don't think that working at a place for less than 2 years reflects badly on you (unless it's a pattern, and at a later point in your career), I don't think that having worked at 3 places means you need to get a master's, and I can't even fathom why you'd think that working at 4 places versus 3 will reflect badly on you.

You should critically analyze the source from which you are getting this bs.

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2013 grad here -- just enrolled in an MPP program for 2017. Here are a couple impressions. 

1) Very few people are interested in "policy." Is there a specific policy or policy area you find interesting? A specific problem you want to solve? Go onto school websites, and maybe visit 80000hours.com for more. 

2) An MPP is not necessarily a path to a stable career, especially given the cost of the programs. Make sure it's what you really want to do. 

3) You have built useful skills in those jobs. As long as you remember that, and showcase your talent, a school will only think better of you for it. 

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On 02/07/2017 at 7:57 PM, makingtheleap.back said:

Very few people are interested in "policy." Is there a specific policy or policy area you find interesting? A specific problem you want to solve? Go onto school websites, and maybe visit 80000hours.com for more. 

I've always been interested in cultures and issues like race relations, immigration and so I am seriously looking at social policy.

On 02/07/2017 at 7:57 PM, makingtheleap.back said:

2013 grad here -- just enrolled in an MPP program for 2017.

Can I ask where you enrolled? 

Thank you everyone for the replies! They're much appreciated.

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On 6/19/2017 at 7:15 AM, ishs said:

Hi,

I graduated from my bachelors (BA in Social Sciences) in 2013. When I graduated I was very confused about what I wanted to do, so I decided to move home and work for a before applying for Masters.

I took a job in market (qualitative) research about a month after graduating - mostly because of a general interest in culture and human psychology. I stuck around for 2 years because I was told it wouldn't look good if I left earlier, but by the end of it I was sure I did not want to make it a career. I then went into brand consulting, but left after 8 months because the place I worked at was not well managed at all - there were frequent (very) late nights, having to do work that I did not have the skills for and lack of proper training and poor management meant that I was absolutely burnt out by the end of those 8 months. So I quit without another job in hand or a back up plan, which they say you should never do, and took 2 months to just recuperate.

I then (on a whim, really) applied for an internship at a think tank in my city where I worked on the website and editorial team - collecting and creating content. I enjoyed this much more than my previous 2 jobs (I think I just liked the people I was working with much more). At this point, aware that I had already worked at 3 different places, I began to feel the pressure to commit to a field of study for my Masters, so I "chose" public policy, even though I haven't actually worked in a policy research think tank and am still not 100% sure I'm passionate about the subject.

I am now looking to apply for Masters in Public Policy for fall 2018. To fill my time until then, as I realize most places will not hire someone just for a year, nor do I want to get into the rigmarole of settling into a full time job, I am looking to apply for policy research internships. However, this will mean that I have worked at 4 different places in as many years.

How bad will this look on my application? Will universities be wary and think my application looks scattered and confused based on all the different places I have worked?

Any feedback would be much appreciated. Thank you!

Those who know me, know I say this a lot and I stand by it: use [what you perceive as] your disadvantages to you advantage. Instead of presenting your story as an array of uncoordinated events, think purposely how each of these jobs helped you be where you are now and move forward. Explicate your skill to adapt, to recalibrate your interests, to learn, and to make decisions.

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Sure, @ishs, I'm heading to Duke-Sanford. Quite a few folks I met at that Open House seem interested in social policy, but there are other great schools like Chicago, Georgetown, etc. that are also more domestic focused. Happy to answer any other questions you might have re: the program, process, etc. 

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12 hours ago, makingtheleap.back said:

Sure, @ishs, I'm heading to Duke-Sanford. Quite a few folks I met at that Open House seem interested in social policy, but there are other great schools like Chicago, Georgetown, etc. that are also more domestic focused. Happy to answer any other questions you might have re: the program, process, etc. 

Ah ok. Well I'm not a U.S. citizen (Indian), but want to do an MPP to up my chances of getting a job either in the States or elsewhere, and I just happen to have an interest in issues like racism, race relations etc. Not sure where that will take me though, because I've heard that many of these programs (Jons Hopkins, Georgetown etc.) are just feeder schools for American students to get into government, and I'm not sure where that'll leave me as a non-U.S. citizen. In an ideal situation, I'll end up doing social research at a think tank or policy institute. 

If I was being completely honest though, the degree is a way to ensure I'm don't have to go back home after. And I'm not sure that's the right reason or even if it'll work. But thanks anyway!

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5 hours ago, ishs said:

If I was being completely honest though, the degree is a way to ensure I'm don't have to go back home after. And I'm not sure that's the right reason or even if it'll work. But thanks anyway!

You probably already know this, but one of the criteria to grant student visas/status to foreign students in the US is that they intend to go back home (or at least leave the US) afterwards. So keep that in mind when you choose what to share with various authorities!

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Posted (edited)

On 14/07/2017 at 9:51 PM, TakeruK said:

You probably already know this, but one of the criteria to grant student visas/status to foreign students in the US is that they intend to go back home (or at least leave the US) afterwards. So keep that in mind when you choose what to share with various authorities!

Yes, I'm aware :) but thanks! I meant it more from the point of view that that seems to be my main reason for applying to grad school in the first place, and I'm not sure that that should be the primary reason. 

Edited by ishs

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