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questions on MPP/MPA/MA in IR given my background


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Hi all,

I have been lurking on the website for a while and this is my first post. I am applying to MPA/MPP/MA in Intl Affairs programs for 2020 fall but now I am a little lost. I am an Intl student who went to a top US uni (top20) and graduated last year. I have been interested in international affairs and politics for a while (was writer for school politics magazine, did research in IR, etc) but eventually I went into investment banking after graduation. I was not particularly into banking but I guess I did not think about my career paths clearly before getting into finance. 

One year after doing the job I realized that banking really is too boring for me. I then quit and joined a multilateral organization as an intern (6 months) focusing on sustainable investment policy in region, while making plans to go back to the states for a MPA/MPP degree. I did my gre in Sept. and luckily got a full score (writing 4.5) Currently I am applying to SAIS MA, SIPA MIA, HKS and Uchi Harris + maybe stanford 

However, after spending some time doing research and browsing this website, I started to have a bit doubts. I kinda feel like I was too silly to just quit a high-paying job and jump into this field without knowing the difficulties ahead. I do know that a policy job for intl students is not going to be lucrative, but I don't really mind the salary as long as I really enjoy it and I am not starving. My issue now is I dont know if I am THAT into the policy field. Doing my current internship makes me feel like maybe politics and stuff are just my hobbies on the side. I know that I don't wanna go back to banking, so I am starting to think about maybe consulting or macroeconomics research or equity research in the future, while still exploring the policy sector after I get into one of those programs (like maybe world bank, IMF, Asia Dev bank, etc)

My question is should i also apply to dual degrees in MBA? My dilemma is that I stupidly quit my job so I only have one year full time experience in banking + an internship before MBA. I think most private sector companies will look for those with 3-5 work exp post-MBA grads, let alone the fact that top MBAs normally don't take those with work exp less than 2 years.

Thanks for your inputs in advance. 

 

 

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Sounds like you've made a couple of rash choices and you're at risk of repeating your mistake. My advice: work for a few more years so you can better understand what you want to do. You only graduated last year, whereas many applicants to your target schools enroll in their late 20s.

Grad school's crazy expensive; you shouldn't apply unless you have a plan.

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12 hours ago, lost_in_translation said:

Sounds like you've made a couple of rash choices and you're at risk of repeating your mistake. My advice: work for a few more years so you can better understand what you want to do. You only graduated last year, whereas many applicants to your target schools enroll in their late 20s.

Grad school's crazy expensive; you shouldn't apply unless you have a plan.

you r right. I was not interested in finance at all but only went for it for the sake of prestige and money....I'm interested in foreign policy but given my background as an international student it is hard to explore this area in the US. It also seems the pay is meagre for think tanks and NGOs too. In my home country the gov usually does not take US-educated students in their foreign services department. This is kinda my dilemma now. 

 

Edited by JonathanLin1996
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Hey Jonathan,

I will preface this by saying that I am currently applying, and don't have any special "insight" other than what I have gleaned from a number of hours pouring over university admissions blogs and other sites.

I personally recommend applying for the dual MBA. As an international student, you will have a really rough time getting a security clearance in 2019 - which means many (most?) foreign policy jobs associated with the US government will be difficult for you to get. I hate to be this blunt, but I have seen even naturalized US citizens wait over a year and a half for their clearance in the military. It doesn't sound like you are even a permanent resident. With other federal agencies, or military roles with a top secret clearance requirement, you likely will not be considered. Similarly, world bank and similar seem to be largely based around who you know.

This still allows for academia, NGOs, and as you have mentioned, consulting or macro equity research (clearance sometimes required for the latter two). Based on your background, it sounds like consulting and ER will be your best bet. With that in mind, your strong scores and investment banking background should make you competitive for an MBA even with limited work experience - although you might struggle more at Harvard Wharton Stanford based on what I've read. You might want to dig around on LinkedIn and check if IR graduates with similar backgrounds tend to place in the areas you are looking at.

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On 10/30/2019 at 3:30 AM, KyleR said:

Hey Jonathan,

I will preface this by saying that I am currently applying, and don't have any special "insight" other than what I have gleaned from a number of hours pouring over university admissions blogs and other sites.

I personally recommend applying for the dual MBA. As an international student, you will have a really rough time getting a security clearance in 2019 - which means many (most?) foreign policy jobs associated with the US government will be difficult for you to get. I hate to be this blunt, but I have seen even naturalized US citizens wait over a year and a half for their clearance in the military. It doesn't sound like you are even a permanent resident. With other federal agencies, or military roles with a top secret clearance requirement, you likely will not be considered. Similarly, world bank and similar seem to be largely based around who you know.

This still allows for academia, NGOs, and as you have mentioned, consulting or macro equity research (clearance sometimes required for the latter two). Based on your background, it sounds like consulting and ER will be your best bet. With that in mind, your strong scores and investment banking background should make you competitive for an MBA even with limited work experience - although you might struggle more at Harvard Wharton Stanford based on what I've read. You might want to dig around on LinkedIn and check if IR graduates with similar backgrounds tend to place in the areas you are looking at.

thanks Kyle. My concern is that if I get into a good MBA program this year, my limited work experience may still hamper my recruiting process going forward - as far as I know for post-MBA positions consulting firms and F500 companies prefer those with longer work experience.  

Based on what you have read, have you seen people with 2 years of wp get into top firms after MBA? Thanks

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Well the nice thing about both consulting and ER is that they seem to scale more to experience. I'm in a similar boat as you in two ways: (1) I was discharged from the military early after an injury and have "less than optimal" years of experiences, and (2) I'm looking at consulting roles as a backup if I can't get a government job in foreign affairs (it's a crapshoot for everyone these days). What I've been led to believe by recruiters / coffee chat connections is that they will simply place you as the advanced version of a recent graduate if your experience doesn't meet what they are looking for. Consulting firms tend to call this a "senior analyst". Assuming you perform, you will simply move up starting from this role - a year or two behind - instead of from the "associate" or whatever they call recent MBA hires with sufficient experience.

In my view, placing at the right firm is more important than placing at a "post-mba" level if your goal is to stay in the private sector. That's where the MBA's value comes in - from networking opportunities and on-campus recruiting with MBB / bulge bracket / whatever. The top masters in international affairs programs seem to also place at these firms, but it takes a little more effort to show that you are a "fit." I hate how much branding matters, but it does.

Again, this is all just the impression I have gleaned from conversations and my own research. 

 

Edited by KyleR
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