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Politicalgeek

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Everything posted by Politicalgeek

  1. I would be really honest with the director when you meet. Ask for specific examples of recent grads working in the area of international policy that you're interesting. You might also ask if s/he or the alumni relations director can connect you with alum working in this area. They should be able to do this - if not, be wary. OK, now I'm going to enter into the realm of rumor and reputation: I was also accepted to Wagner and decided not to go because I got into a program I was more interested in. My impression, both from the application process and from what I saw when I was in my MPP program and then, later in DC, is that you are right in your assessment. Wagner is not known for international work, and I don't think that's really what it's trying to do anyway. It's good that you're being so careful about this, since a MPA/MPP is a big time commitment and obviously a lot of debt to get into. You want to be sure it's the right thing for your career. Did you apply to places like SIPA, Fletcher, SAIS, HKS this year? If so, and you didn't get in, I would try to defer at Wagner and reapply to those other schools this year. Now that you've been through the process once, you'll probably do better at it this year. Finally, do you have any international experience? If not, you may want to put grad school off for a few years and do something like Peace Corps. If my class was any indicator, Peace Corps is a really great boost for MPP/MPA admissions chances.
  2. Bumping an old thread to agree with this. I'm applying to PhD programs after 7 years of working in my field, which is closely related to the subfield I'm interested in. I figure that, even if I can't get a good job in academia, I'll be able to go back to my old field. Of course, I will have "lost" 5+ years of climbing the ladder, but I think that if I keep my research closely related to my field, it'll be ok. As a side note: I've seen several people go successfully from getting their PhDs to high-level positions in my field. I think they did this by developing relationships with practitioners while they were in their programs - contributing to blogs, presenting at professional conferences, doing research projects for nonprofits in the field, etc. So even if you do get in, but are not sure you want to go into academia, try using your time while you're in the PhD program building relationships in a non-academic field.
  3. I'd echo everyone else that, no, it doesn't seem like it would really matter for you. I'd say you should probably try to go to the best program in your geographic region, though, because the networking opportunities will probably be helpful. Are you interested in going part-time while you stay at your job?
  4. I'm a Kennedy MPP (07). I loved my experience and think the MPP is a great degree. I'll say your resume is pretty impressive, and you should do well in admissions; definitely don't rule out Kennedy. That said: do you have a compelling reason to go right into grad school? And by compelling, I mean, do you have no other choice because you're on a student visa or something like that? If not, I would strongly recommend that you work for a year or two before applying for grad school. There are a few reasons for this: - An MPP is a professional program and the Kennedy School, at least, uses a lot of real-world cases as the basis for teaching and class discussion. You simply will not get as much out of this education if you don't have real-world work experience to draw from. I saw this time and time again with friends who came in straight out of undergrad. They were extremely smart and hard-working, but they still did not get as much out of the program. - If you've been in school your whole life, it's really easy and tempting to just keep going to school. Which is why it's a good idea to do something different for a while. You will be surprised at how much you change in the first couple of years out of school. For instance, I thought about applying to grad school right out of undergrad. I was going to apply to history PhD programs (my UG major). This would have been a disastrous mistake for me. It wasn't until I was out, and working, that I found what ended up being my professional passion. This isn't to say your interests will definitely change, but it would not be surprising if they did. - My friends who went right in from undergrad had a much harder time finding jobs afterward. And many of them found that they still had to take entry-level jobs when they did get into the workforce. It depends on what you want to do, of course, but unfortunately a lot of public sector employers don't value MPPs as much as we'd like! Also, I really think there's a sort of "grounded" confidence that comes from having had a career before grad school - I knew my degree would only take so far, and I also knew that even if my degree didn't carry me, I had skills that would get me a job. A lot of the straight-from-undergrad kids I saw came in with a lot of confidence but it was very fragile and they were really, really worried about the future. Finally, I wonder why you're interested in a joint JD/MPP. Do you want to practice public interest law or work as a lawyer for the federal government? What interests you about that field? And what do you think you'll get from a MPP that you wouldn't get just from a JD? And if you don't want to practice law, then there's really no reason to get a JD. Also, a joint JD/MPP from private schools will put you $250K in debt. That is a really, really big debt load to start your career with and will make it difficult to do public sector work. I have some regrets about my MPP debt and I really don't know what I'd do if I had twice the debt. Neither MPP or JD programs are good about grants or scholarships. Sorry if I seem overly gloomy or discouraging, I just feel really strongly that it's in most students' best interest to wait.
  5. I know this is not what you asked, but ... do you mind if I ask what area of campaigns you're interested in, and why you applied to this program? I ask because I work in politics (as you can probably guess from my username) and from what I have seen, these programs are completely unnecessary for working in politics and are usually a waste of time and money if you don't already have significant experience. In fact, the debt load you'd likely pick up in such a program would probably make it difficult to take the kind of low-paying entry level jobs that are really necessary for a career in politics. I'm not saying this to be a jerk, but rather to be encouraging - you don't need to go to this school to work in politics! Not at all! In fact, this is an election year, so it should be really easy to get the kind of experience that, at this point, is probably more valuable than a masters. And get paid for it to boot. Anyway, if you have any questions at all about starting a career in politics, please do not hesitate to send me a private message and I'll tell you what I know.
  6. I agree with this. I'm older than most of the people on this board and of the 12 rental apartments and houses I've lived in since I was out on my own, only 2 have had in-unit W/Ds, and 3 of those places didn't even have a washer on-site. I didn't have a washer/dryer in my building during grad school, but honestly, I got a lot of work done in the laundromat. If there's a washer in the basement, it's really not a big deal. Also, lots of W/Ds these days take special laundry cards instead of quarters. I do agree, though, that searching online is frustrating and practically useless. It's also pretty early to be looking for the fall. Is there any way you can do an apartment-hunting trip this summer?
  7. Word to this. I really wish I'd "brushed up" before I did my MPP - I spent the first semester madly playing catch-up. No joke, I strongly recommend reading The Cartoon Guide to Statistics. It's actually the major book I used to study for exams and I ended up learning the concepts pretty well from it.
  8. Well, this is an old question, and I see that you've already made your plans, but for others in the same position - you will most likely not get a job until after you graduate. If you go to school in DC or nearby, you may be able to start applying in the spring, but no one will want to hire you more than a month before you can start. And you *really* have to be in DC to get considered for these jobs - it's all about pounding the pavement. You should also expect to look for at least 6 months before finding a job, especially on the Hill. It may be less, but it's good to be prepared.
  9. After a long and circuitous route that led me from poli sci through organizational behavior, I've finally decided that sociology is probably the best disciplinary "home" for me. But I'm not sure what are the best programs for me to be looking at. Broadly, I'm interested in political sociology and social movements. More specifically, I'm interested in what makes social movements successful at creating change, with a particular interest in social networks and leadership development. Does anyone have any ideas of some good programs for this? I'm looking for second and third tier in addition to the top-10 programs. Thanks in advance!
  10. I have a MPP. Here is what I'd say, based on observations of my classmates' experiences in DC: - If you decide you're primarily interested in policy, you should either get an MPP from a top school (I went to KSG) or a PhD in the field you're primarily interested in (i.e., for working for an IFI, I'd say economics; if you were interested in social policy I'd say sociology or education). Even most of the factulty of policy schools have these sorts of degrees, not policy degrees! - In my experience, masters in poli sci have no advantage over MPPs in Washington. If anything, I think the MPP has a bit of a comparative advantage, because it's more practical, and agencies want people who know how to work in "the real world." But really, it's all about the skills you have to offer - can you do the kind of analysis they need? Write memos in the way they want them written? And so on. Whatever program you choose, make sure you will get the skills you need. - Many of my classmates are now working for the WB, IDB, etc. Actually, I would not be surprised to learn the WB is the single larget employer of KSG grads in DC after the federal govt. A lot of them went through the Masters in Public Administration/International Development (MPA/ID) program which is extremely rigorous (Dani Roderick teaches their core econ class!). That might be a good program to look at. But even outside the MPA/ID, there are a lot of KSG alum (and, I'd guess, alum of other policy schools) working in the IFIs in DC. - In general, I'd say that if you are interested in working in the practical policy arena, you should not get a PhD right out of school. You probably won't need it, and it may even hurt you on the job market (because your PhD makes you too expensive but you don't have the work experience to justify the costs). I actually would even work before getting a masters. Hope this helps!
  11. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Good plan! Parking at UW is an expensive pain - you'd end up walking around in the rain anyway! There's a great, separated bike path that goes right though campus, to some of the coolest neighborhoods in Seattle.
  12. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Also, I just wanted to add that right now, it's sunny, with just a few wispy clouds in the air, and absolutely gorgeous. Which means I need to get off the internet and go outside!
  13. Politicalgeek

    Seattle, WA

    Yes! To be honest, the rain-all-the-time rep is greatly exaggerated. I've lived here for almost a year, and in my experience, even in the dead of winter, the sun comes out for at least a little bit every day. It will be a shock to your system, but there are very few places that are as sunny as Arizona, so unless you plan to stay there for the rest of your life, it's probably a good idea to get used to some cloudy skies. However, you should make sure to be aware of the issues that people can have with the darker weather, know the symptoms and be prepared to take steps to deal with them if necessary. The two I've heard a lot about are Seasonal Affective Disorder (ie, winter depression) and Vitamin D deficiency. Learn the symptoms and, if you notice them, get yourself to the Student Health center and get treated. Both are easy to treat. I will be completely honest with you here - I have noticed elements of Seattle Freeze. It's not that people are rude or unfriendly, but that it can be difficult to move beyond the friendly stage to actually hanging out and being friends. BUT I don't think that will be a huge issue for you since you'll be in grad school and thus will have a built-in network. And like the weather, I think Seattle Freeze is overrated. I've definitely made friends here! I don't think you're being melodramatic but I just wanted to say that if you do decide to go to UW, you will probably be happiest if you view this as an interesting opportunity to live somewhere different for a while. The climate actually brings lots of stuff to Seattle that you won't get in Arizona (rainforests, rivers full of salmon, amazing produce, lush greenness everywhere, amazing views of the sun bursting out of the clouds over the snow-capped Olympics...) and you might as well do what you can to enjoy it while you're there. Take it as someone who's been through a 2-year masters program - you will be SHOCKED at how quickly those 20 months pass!
  14. To be honest, if you're planning on taking out 100K in loans to do a masters, you probably want to make damned sure you're going to get into the best program you can. As I'm sure you know, ID is a very competitive field, and going to a top program is pretty important. Why not just take the GRE again and get the best score you can, especially your Q score? Also, can you be a bit more specific? What is your work experience, what were you doing in Africa, what area of development are you interested in?
  15. I lived right next to Peabody Terrace and loved it! It's one of the nicest neighborhoods in the Boston area. It's fairly quiet, with nice tree-lined streets and friendly neighbors, but a five minute walk and you're on Mass Ave (a major thoughway) and in ten minutes you're in Harvard or Central Square. Really nice.
  16. OK, I seem to have turned into the resident HKS prognosticator (ha!), but that's only because I loved my time there so much and I love talking about it. Anyway, I have a hard time believing you wouldn't get into most of those schools with those stats. Policy schools have higher admissions rates - mostly, I think, because the applicant pool is so self-selecting. So if you have a solid public interest background and a good academic record, you're likely to get in. Work on getting your Q score up because that score will hurt you, but, at least with HKS, a lack of a quant background won't necessarily hurt you once you're there - they do a good job of teaching econ and stats to people who have never taken them, or forgotten it all in the time they've been away from school. I was a humanities major and did fine. Unfortunately (but fortunately for you!) I think the best policy schools place a lot of emphasis on UG school, so that will work in your favor. Anyway, as to your other questions - I applied to most of the same schools as you (except for WW) and my impression was that NYU and HKS were quite well-rounded, while Berkeley was more strictly policy-oriented. That was one of my biggest reasons for picking HKS. Also, at HKS you can take classes at HBS, which is nice. AND if you're interested in developing your leadership skills, Harvard has a top-notch leadership program, and HKS in particular has one of the best leadership professors around (Heifetz). OK, now that I've talked about how awesome HKS is, one bad thing - almost no one gets funding there. And that's likely to get even worse with Harvard's financial crisis. I and several other people I met got partial scholarships to NYU, so they seem to be more generous with aid. I don't regret picking HKS because it more closely fit what I wanted to study, but man, do I have a lot of loans! Oh, and other schools: there aren't really that many good policy schools with a broad curriculum - most of the best are really focused on policy. Have you looked at the Maxwell School at Syracuse?
  17. No problem. As for specific schools, it really depends on what area of policy you're interested in. Also, some schools are more strictly policy-oriented, while others also require management courses, etc.
  18. Thanks for the feedback! I'm definitely looking at political psychology programs as well. It seems like my best bet would be to find a school with both a strong political psychology program and a strong sociology program to cover all my bases.
  19. You will certainly be able to get into a decent MPP program somewhere, as long as your LORs and essays are really solid. However, I always recommend that people get at least a couple of years of public interest work experience (and that can be anything from working on a campaign to teaching to being a grunt on the Hill to working for a public sector consulting firm). There were some people in my program who went straight from undergrad, and while they often got the best grades (I think because they were still in the academic mindset), I really think the people with a few years' experience got a lot more out of the program. It's one thing to learn abstract concepts - it's a totally different thing to learn these concepts, and have that lightbulb go off in your head where you think of something that happened at your last job and can say "oh, so THAT'S what was going on!" It makes the experience so much richer and probably more valuable. To be brutally honest, people who had come right out of undergrad rarely had much of value to offer in classroom discussions. As for what kind of work experience you should look for - I'm guessing you're looking now, since you graduated in the Spring (unless that Americorps year is starting now?). Anyway, pretty much any public sector job would be valuable - that includes working for the government or a nonprofit organization, or doing some sort of community-oriented work for a socially responsible for-profit company. I know the economy sucks right now, so it's hard. Even if you can't get a paying position, you may want to do some sort of really substantitve volunteer work (ie, running a program, etc).
  20. Just a quick note. Your chances are probably pretty decent, though they'd be made better by a couple of years of work. However, if you are serious about wanting to do poverty work, you should think about doing a program with a strong econ bent as well as social policy. It'll just get you taken more seriously.
  21. OK, whew, lots of interesting stuff here. Some thoughts (from a Harvard MPP not working in social policy): - If you want to work in Washington, you "have the freedom" to do so right now. Many people get good jobs there with Masters or even BAs, and DC loves Ivy degrees. The combo of LSE and your work background will make you marketable. I'm not currently working in DC (been there, done that) but lots of my friends are, so feel free to PM me if you want to get into specifics. - That said, IME there are not many jobs in DC that are solely research - most people also end up doing things like lobbying, managing coalition partners, media work, supervising staff or just boring admin work. You will also probably have to work at a very fast pace. The biggest difference I've noticed between the policy/advocacy world and academia is that, while academics take a long view, digging down into one topic and figuring out long-term implications, policy advocates operate in the context of what's happening right now, which means you could be working on 6-7 different issues in any given year (or month!). Both are obviously very important - academic research feeds and informs policy, while policy advocates use that research to try to make some sort of change. - I didn't personally do much poverty or urban policy stuff at Harvard, but from what I've seen, I wouldn't necessarily overlook it. There are a lot of people doing really interesting work in these areas there. Not just at HKS, but at the Ed School, in the law school and in several of the social sciences departments. Anyway, it sounds like you're in a similar boat as me - we're also the same age! I've been doing work in the field since I graduated and I love the rough and tumble-ness of it, and getting things done all the time, but I'm also at the point where I want to step back and dig into some research into the things I'm really passionate about. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions or just want to commiserate!
  22. Douracell, Yes, several of my classmates are working or have worked for the Bank, the Interamerican Development Bank, etc. Those jobs are pretty hard to get, as I'm sure you know, but MPPs do get them.
  23. Hi all, First, I realize there is another post with the same title, but as my interests are very different, I figured I'd start a new topic. So here's my dilemma - I started looking into poli sci programs with good political behavior programs, but it's become more and more clear that my interests overlap quite a bit with political sociology, and that sociology might be a better academic home for me. My interests are in social and political change and civic engagement, and how demographic, cultural and political factors combine to impact political involvement and decision-making. For instance, are the social and demographic factors that determine who runs for office different for men than women? And if so, what does that mean for policy and governance? The other thing is that I am a big fan of quantitative analysis, and it seems like many of the research areas that I'm interested benefit from solid quant methods. I have heard that poli sci is better at this that sociology: true, or vicious poli sci lie? And then for the mudane, careerist concerns: - My background is more in political science than sociology, though I have an MPP and took several social policy courses - how would this affect my chance at getting into good programs? - How is the job market for political sociologists? Obviously the academic job market is bad everywhere, but how bad? Also, I've heard there are a lot of non-academic job opportunities for sociologists - anyone have experience with this? I realize this is a pretty basic question. Thank in advance for your patience!
  24. I'm late here, but as an HKS, I'd say you have a good shot. HKS loves international students with econ backgrounds. What are your GREs and UG grades?
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