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Everything posted by MaxwellAlum

  1. I hear you. The ILO might be one exception (one would hope so given what they do). Also your university's career office might have information on funding for unpaid internships.
  2. Not when I was there 6 years ago. At that time a lot of people were pushing for them to start paying interns. There were definitely cases of interns being homeless due to the high cost of living in New York and Geneva. Not sure if any progress has been made on that.
  3. Prestige can help, but who you know matters more. Probably the best thing to do is to intern at one of the organizations where you want to work. A word of warning - a lot of UN agencies are increasingly relying on consultant contracts, which basically means you don't get any job security or benefits, and while it can perhaps be a foot in the door, there's really no guarantee. If you pass the YPP exam (doing an internship and studying the history of the UN can help), you're likely to get offered a (non consultant) position in the Secretariat. The problem there is you don't get a choic
  4. Definitely - MPAs and MPPs are perfect for going into budgeting and finance related jobs. Might be worth arranging informational interviews with people in a local/state/federal budget office. I know several people who enjoying that career path and doing interesting work, but it's not for everybody.
  5. I'm not against more quant in MPA programs nor do I think it is useless. The more quant you have the better consumer of research you can be. That's important for any policy job. To what extent you can use the skills you learn in those programs to conduct rigorous impact evaluations or design surveys I don't know. All I can say is that in my experience MPAs and MPPs are not research focused degrees and if hard research is your goal, a PhD will get you much farther skills-wise and in terms of credibility on the job market IMO.
  6. I agree with ExponentialDecay. I have an MPA and work in a research/policy analysis job in government, but the type of research I do is really different from that which a PhD in an academic position might do. I don't conduct or analyze the results of robust, random sample surveys and am not qualified to do so. I don't run regressions because, while my MPA gave me enough stats to know how to run a regression, it certainly wasn't at the level you see in academic papers. Mostly my work involves interviewing government officials, describing government programs and budgets, and analyzing data b
  7. This isn't on your list, but Syracuse offers significant aid in the form of graduate assistantships. Some of these are awarded as part of the initial offer, but I remember a handful being available for students to apply for when they arrived in July (Syracuse's MPA is a 12-month program starting in the summer).
  8. Not specific to IR (lots of people with IR degrees don't go into IR jobs), but in my experience, several of my peers who went into local or federal government in the DC area were making $70k+ two years out of grad school. Most of us are over in the $90-$110k range now that we are 5-6 years out (GS-13 level in the federal government). Salaries won't increase as fast from here on out (a lot of the increase comes from noncompetitive promotions, which stop at a certain point), but assuming reasonable cost of living increases (more likely at the local level than federal at this point, unfortunate
  9. We use income-based repayment plans. Although I was fortunate to graduate with less than $50k in debt, my spouse has over $100k. Now that we've been in the workforce for five years, our salaries are each in the $90-$100k ranges. We pay a combined $1,000 a month on our loans on an income-based plan. It's a lot to pay (it'd be really nice to have that money freed up), but we're still able to save a lot for retirement and for a down payment in a relatively high cost region. The problem with taking out so much debt for a public policy/IR degree is that return on the investment is hard t
  10. I think these rankings are useful mainly for identifying programs to apply to that you wouldn't have otherwise thought of. As an alum of the Maxwell School at Syracuse, I have no illusions that my MPA is somehow seen as more prestigious than a degree from HKS or Princeton - it's definitely not. But it wouldn't have occurred to me to look into applying if it wasn't for the US News rankings. No employer will care about your school's public affairs program ranking in US News. They're not going to look up the most recent ranking when deciding who to interview. Many (particularly private
  11. With the major caveat that any amount of debt is too much if you can get the same result by spending less, I would say that $30k is definitely manageable. You can pay that off in 10 years with monthly payments under $350. It's still a significant amount of money to fork over every month, but assuming you're looking at jobs that pay $50k out of grad school, it's reasonably affordable and is not that much higher than what you'd be paying on an income based plan. And if you're really motivated and don't have a lot of other expenses, it wouldn't be totally impossible to pay it off faster by mak
  12. Glad to be of help! I do just want to echo some of the points gelatinskeleton made. When you are this early in your career, so much can change. Of my cohort that did a dual MPA/IR degree several years ago, about half are working in something related to IR, and the other half are working on domestic and local policy. A surprising number of us are in local government. At least in my case, I made a choice to work in local government, despite having an offer to work in an international organization, because I realized I didn't want to live abroad again. I think a lot of people who study IR r
  13. Re: PSLF As someone who is cautiously hoping to receive forgiveness and been submitting my certification forms, I will say it is an awesome deal. Paying 10% of your income over 10 years is significant (after 5 years of raises my husband and I are paying a combined $1,000 each month, and boy would we love to be able to do other things with that money), but the forgiveness is a massive benefit and fortunately tax free. Laugh if you like, but my understanding is that there are people who have received forgiveness, just not many because of the intricacies of the repayment plans available in 200
  14. Over a decade ago when I was in high school looking at colleges, most of my peers were planning on taking out loans to be able to afford elite private universities. My parents strongly discouraged that, and I ended up graduating debt free from undergrad (I chose a school that offered me significant scholarship money over a slightly higher ranked school that offered me basically nothing). I'm so glad that I did that, especially since I ended up studying English literature and was never super motivated to seek out high powered private sector jobs. I did take out some loans for grad school, bu
  15. Your story sounds quite far-fetched and is not consistent with the experiences of friends with IR degrees, many of whom did not attend prestigious schools or have "flawless" GPAs. Not saying they all have perfect careers, but as far as I know none are hiding from debt collectors in Latin America hoping for regime change in Venezuela to get a full-time job. Were you not eligible for federal loans when you attended grad school? Fellow GradCafe readers, do not to take out private loans for grad school if you are eligible for federal loans. With federal loans you have access to income-base
  16. When I was doing my MPA at Syracuse, there were a couple of students who came straight out of undergrad, but the vast majority of the class had full time work experience coming in. Those that did come straight out of undergrad were very focused, extremely smart and very high achievers. 6 years out of grad school, they are doing very well. People do MPAs/MPPs straight out of undergrad and do well, but it's certainly not the right/feasible choice for everyone.
  17. That's weird. PSLF doesn't have income requirements. The reason most people have to certify their income is to continue to qualify for income-based repayment (IBR), which is a qualifying repayment plan for PSLF. If you don't recertify, you should be placed on a standard 10-year plan, which is also a qualifying repayment plan, but if you are on it for 10 years there will be nothing left to forgive. It sounds like Taibbi is confusing PSFL with IBR perhaps?
  18. I can't speak too specifically to getting jobs at State, but one thing I recommend you look into is placement of a program's graduates into the PMF program, which is one of the best ways to get into the federal government. The PMF website should have lists of who was a finalist from each school.; I love Maxwell and had an awesome experience there, but I know a bunch of people were disappointed by how few of us got into PMF.
  19. International relations is a very broad field. What kinds of jobs/employers are you looking to work for? In my experience, the people who are successful in this general field, and particularly within international development, have experience living and working abroad. That's why a lot of people recommend Peace Corps.
  20. My understanding is if you are an independent contractor (e.g. not a Deloitte employee working in DHS facility) you can still qualify for PSLF. You need to work at least 30 hours per week to be considered full-time, and if you had two jobs that add up to full-time, then that counts as well. With World Bank STCs, the problem is the World Bank does not qualify as a public service employer. http://www.holdfasttodreams.org/busting-myths-pslf-and-independent-contractors/
  21. Unfortunately, I don't think the World Bank qualifies as an employer for PSLF. The text below is from the studentaid.ed.gov website. I recommend anyone thinking about PSLF read their materials on PSLF carefully. "Does employment by a foreign government or international, intergovernmental organization (such as the United Nations, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, Organization of American States, North Atlantic Treaty Organization) qualify for PSLF?No. Only U.S. federal, state, local, and tribal government organizations, agencies, or entities are qualifying employers
  22. What do you want to do for the CDC/HUD/etc? Do you want to do policy analysis? Manage programs? Be a budget analyst? Have you thought about applying to jobs in state or local government health departments? Doing so might give you a better sense of what you want to do with your career, and you might find you don't need another degree to get to where you want to be.
  23. MPAs don't really teach you many hard skills that you can't learn on the job or by taking evening or online classes. Jobs in public policy or public administration are different from jobs in areas like social work of law, where you absolutely need the degree to be allowed to practice in the profession. As you have observed, there aren't too many jobs that actually require MPAs. However, if you want a career in public policy, and you are having trouble breaking into the field, an MPA can give you that leg up. For me, it was helpful for shifting my career trajectory to doing more analyti
  24. I totally agree that an individual degree can be worth it. My post was referring specifically to dual degrees. Are you saying that doing a degree in IR and an MBA is better than doing an MBA alone?
  25. As someone who did a dual degree (MPA and MA in IR), I recommend extreme caution. Having an extra degree did not, in and of itself, help me in the job market. Mostly it meant I graduated later and with more debt. Remember that the classroom is not the only place you can learn and it's a fairly expensive one. Don't discount the fact that the extra year(s) you'll spend in school means you'll forgo time learning (and earning) on the job. Unless there is a specific, marketable skill you'll get from the extra time in school, I would not recommend it.
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