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51 minutes ago, auditorteladan said:

Hi, a state auditor here (I wonder whether this is a unique/rare job or not) 

Considering applying to: HKS MC/MPA. Yale MAS in Global Affairs
UG Institution: University of Indonesia
UG Major: Accounting
UG GPA: 3.38 
Years out of UG: 7+ years
Quant background: Basic Econ Calculus (B+), Basic Statistics (A), intermediate statistics (A-).
Transcript weakness: got C+ on several courses

Work experiences:
6 years as state auditor in outer island regions of Indonesia (Sulawesi and Kalimantan). Promoted/moved several times: junior auditor->senior auditor->chief of staff for chief of audit division->chief of audit team. Conducting financial, performance, and special-purpose audit on government budget and expenditure as well as evaluating performance on key government policies and activities.

Other work experiences: 8 months as big 4 auditor, 8 months career switch as an entrepreneur before entering state audit office.

Recent Int'l. experiences:
-INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme Audit Institution) Forestry Audit Training (2019)
-UNDP workshop on anti-corruption for SDGs 2030 (2019)
-Mentor for an underdeveloped country's supreme audit institution delegation in constructing an audit strategy (2019)

GRE: no

IELTS: 7.5

LoR: 1 UG professor (emeritus), 1 former supervisor, 1 current supervisor. All know me well. UG professor willing to explain about my declining GPA in 2nd year and add that I got a gold medal on a student scientific competition. 

SoP Strength: working mostly in underdeveloped region in Indonesia, some evidences of positive impact to societies, rather quick career promotion, chosen as member of a national council to construct audit guidelines on Covid-19 countermeasure, and several leadership experience since UG. 

Career aspiration: gain more influence in my office and INTOSAI to promote a more policy-oriented government audit rather than only focus on financial audit.

Extracullicular: founded a policy think-thank club for fellow public servant, volunteering (currently volunteering on giving food for homeless people in Kalimantan, former teacher and teacher coordinator of a voluntary teaching activity during UG)

Scholarship: already got a government scholarship

 

1. Being an auditor is great! It makes you unique

2. Your biggest problem is no GRE -it brings into doubt your ability to graduate

 

 

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7 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

1. Being an auditor is great! It makes you unique

2. Your biggest problem is no GRE -it brings into doubt your ability to graduate

 

 

Thank you for your reply,

I agree with you, no GRE is indeed a weakness. I haven't take any GRE because I live in Kalimantan Island (not in Java, where the capital city is located) and due too COVID-19 pandemic I can't go by plane to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia (I planned to take GRE on May/June 2020). Moreover, online GRE will be difficult as internet access is quite limited here.

 

Anyway, I have read both HKS Mason MC/MPA and Jackson MAS, both do not require GRE. So, does the No-GRE factor will really drag my chances down, or there's still a good chance on them?

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1 hour ago, auditorteladan said:

Thank you for your reply,

I agree with you, no GRE is indeed a weakness. I haven't take any GRE because I live in Kalimantan Island (not in Java, where the capital city is located) and due too COVID-19 pandemic I can't go by plane to Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia (I planned to take GRE on May/June 2020). Moreover, online GRE will be difficult as internet access is quite limited here.

 

Anyway, I have read both HKS Mason MC/MPA and Jackson MAS, both do not require GRE. So, does the No-GRE factor will really drag my chances down, or there's still a good chance on them?

I completely understand your situation, and I hear stories of other people (especially international students) who struggle to take the GRE due to logistics in today's times. 

However, you need to realize that not requiring it doesn't mean that sending it won't help you. Yes, you come from a more unique part of the world and you have a unique professional background --> that makes you diverse. However, since there is not a consistent population of people from Indonesia and your university coming to US policy schools, admissions offices may struggle with familiarity of your institution. It would be one thing if you were the top 10% student in your school with a 3.7 GPA with lots of awards + a publication in English. However, you have an good but not great GPA from school that I assume is not English speaking. In order to give confidence that you can actually graduate in a difficult English curriculum, and that is where a great GRE score can help you and stop any doubts.

You have to understand that pre-COVID, back when policy schools (even HKS) were struggling to get the desired number of applicants, policy schools had heartburn with international students that they took risks on who then struggled to graduate based upon the English material + teamwork dynamic or transition to the US style of education. 

Right now, based off of what you tell me, these would be the doubts I have.

1. This person clearly did okay to good... academically at the home institution, but how do I know this person can succeed with English classes whereby team work and participation is necessary. This especially since your IELTS is a 7.5 - which is good, but not great. You have to keep in mind that you are going for some of the most competitive programs in the US. 

2. You did you work in a name brand International company (the accounting firm), but only 8 months (which ice fine... but you might have to explain it), because traditionally, people stay at least 2 years in order to gain the credibility. An 8 month stay at non-start up hints at initial career difficulty at high performing job. Not saying that is so, but that can raise concerns. 

What I'm saying is this.

If you were an American student, I don't see you getting into either program based on your grades + if it was generic work experience. 

As an international student coming from a less common country (Indonesia) + being a former accountant with lots of career experience, that helps you. Without good GRE scores to give confidence in you, I don't know if it helps you enough to get in. Maybe it could because of the diversity factor. However, this is an extra competitive environment for US graduate school applications. You might slide by in a normal year, but this year could be tough. 

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On 12/13/2020 at 10:17 AM, GradSchoolGrad said:

So normally, I wouldn't really recommend this school due to its (in my opinion, although it is a great program - it is too small and too removed from Washington/New York - lets be honest centers of power). HOWEVER!!! - if you want to live, breathe, and dream Asia security issues - Stanford's Ford Dorsey Master's in International Relations might just be up your alley. Academically, it is a stellar program.

The other one out west that does really well with Asia IR is Middlebury's Monterrey Institute - it is a bit niche though... I would think of it as a safety. 

If I were you, I would take out Fletcher MGA (its an expansion program and not its standard flagship MALD) and NYU MSPP (again not a flagship program, you don't want to play 2nd fiddle) and replace it with Stanford. If you think Middlebury Monterrey works for you (after doing some research, maybe use that as a safety). 

 

UCSD has a very strong Asian focus too, iirc.

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On 12/13/2020 at 7:17 AM, GradSchoolGrad said:

So normally, I wouldn't really recommend this school due to its (in my opinion, although it is a great program - it is too small and too removed from Washington/New York - lets be honest centers of power). HOWEVER!!! - if you want to live, breathe, and dream Asia security issues - Stanford's Ford Dorsey Master's in International Relations might just be up your alley. Academically, it is a stellar program.

The other one out west that does really well with Asia IR is Middlebury's Monterrey Institute - it is a bit niche though... I would think of it as a safety. 

If I were you, I would take out Fletcher MGA (its an expansion program and not its standard flagship MALD) and NYU MSPP (again not a flagship program, you don't want to play 2nd fiddle) and replace it with Stanford. If you think Middlebury Monterrey works for you (after doing some research, maybe use that as a safety). 

 

Thanks for the recommendations! At first blush Stanford looks very intriguing, but like you said being so far removed from all the action is definitely a factor. I'll start refining the target come January. I know it can only help but can I get by without a GRE? Hoping to knock out my PMP next year as well so prep time would be constrained.

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17 minutes ago, ECCN9A102 said:

Thanks for the recommendations! At first blush Stanford looks very intriguing, but like you said being so far removed from all the action is definitely a factor. I'll start refining the target come January. I know it can only help but can I get by without a GRE? Hoping to knock out my PMP next year as well so prep time would be constrained.

Not taking the GRE is like going on a road trip with the gas tank half empty through Nevada. Sure, you might be fine, but you don't want to be the unlucky person going on a long stretch and find yourself out of gas with no gas station available. That is what Grad school is like for this year.

1. Getting in can be rough if there are more capable people than you. Granted you might be competitive in normal years, this is a crazy competitive year.

2. Schools will pay for higher GRE scores... not submitting your GRE risks your ability to get funding (or at least more funding). PMP generally matters in legacy businesses and industries (well some functions too - like supply chain). No one really cares in IR space. 

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21 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I completely understand your situation, and I hear stories of other people (especially international students) who struggle to take the GRE due to logistics in today's times. 

However, you need to realize that not requiring it doesn't mean that sending it won't help you. Yes, you come from a more unique part of the world and you have a unique professional background --> that makes you diverse. However, since there is not a consistent population of people from Indonesia and your university coming to US policy schools, admissions offices may struggle with familiarity of your institution. It would be one thing if you were the top 10% student in your school with a 3.7 GPA with lots of awards + a publication in English. However, you have an good but not great GPA from school that I assume is not English speaking. In order to give confidence that you can actually graduate in a difficult English curriculum, and that is where a great GRE score can help you and stop any doubts.

You have to understand that pre-COVID, back when policy schools (even HKS) were struggling to get the desired number of applicants, policy schools had heartburn with international students that they took risks on who then struggled to graduate based upon the English material + teamwork dynamic or transition to the US style of education. 

Right now, based off of what you tell me, these would be the doubts I have.

1. This person clearly did okay to good... academically at the home institution, but how do I know this person can succeed with English classes whereby team work and participation is necessary. This especially since your IELTS is a 7.5 - which is good, but not great. You have to keep in mind that you are going for some of the most competitive programs in the US. 

2. You did you work in a name brand International company (the accounting firm), but only 8 months (which ice fine... but you might have to explain it), because traditionally, people stay at least 2 years in order to gain the credibility. An 8 month stay at non-start up hints at initial career difficulty at high performing job. Not saying that is so, but that can raise concerns. 

What I'm saying is this.

If you were an American student, I don't see you getting into either program based on your grades + if it was generic work experience. 

As an international student coming from a less common country (Indonesia) + being a former accountant with lots of career experience, that helps you. Without good GRE scores to give confidence in you, I don't know if it helps you enough to get in. Maybe it could because of the diversity factor. However, this is an extra competitive environment for US graduate school applications. You might slide by in a normal year, but this year could be tough. 

Wow, thank you for the detailed opinion and explanation! 

It's true that my academic performance is not impressive, but I hope my unique background, career development, and positive impact will strengthen the application. 

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3 hours ago, auditorteladan said:

Wow, thank you for the detailed opinion and explanation! 

It's true that my academic performance is not impressive, but I hope my unique background, career development, and positive impact will strengthen the application. 

Here is the deal.

Your fundamentals are good, but not great. Your uniqueness is there, but nothing competitively extraordinary. Unless there is something you are not telling me, the biggest thing you are missing is a wow factor - things like, started a non-profit, lead XYZ initiative at an NGO, published on XYZ.

What I'm saying is that unless you are Nationally sponsored with a school with a pre-existing agreement through your government, your chances are not good, especially for this year. 

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So, I am seriously considering applying for an MPA in the fall of 2022, but I want to know how realistic my aspirations are before dedicating a lot of time to my application and preparation. I am shooting for Harvard Kennedy School, Goldman, USC, and Princeton. My snapshot it:

GPA:

I graduated in 2019 with a 4.0 and as Summa Cum Laude from my state school. I also was awarded the undergraduate research scholar for my Honor's thesis and working in my Honor college's think tank. I also was awarded many merit scholarships.

GRE score:

I have only taken a cold practice GRE, but I got a 159 verbal and 155 quant (I plan to raise these both to the 160s). 

LoR: I believe my LoR will be very strong. I am having my direct supervisor, my CEO, and professor I am writing the manuscript with write them. Also, one of my best traits is my problem solving and team work (which is best reflected in LoR I think). 

Work experience:

Before graduating, I was in an array of very competitive law mentorship programs, but I had a change of heart in my senior year and went to the nonprofit world. I now work for a nonprofit that serves about 7,000 at-risk kids annually and has a $5m budget. I have increased the fundraising section I am in by over 65%, and my funds account for about 70% of the annual budget now. I also did some specialized campaigns during COVID to fundraise for lost revenue, so no one was laid off or furloughed. Anyhow, it looks like I may be getting a small promotion and begin engaging in all of our government relations within the next six months. By the time I attend, I will have about 4 years of experience. I am also going to coauthor a manuscript for publication with a professor I know. 

Quantitative skills:

I took grad level quantitative analysis as an undergrad and I am taking a few more grad courses. In my daily line of work, I use data to assess programming, communicate with stakeholders, etc. 

Extracurricular

I advise on an array of female empowerment groups in my community. I have also started mentorship programs for at-risk girls. 

Statement of Purpose:

I want to go to HKS because of its fantastic array of courses and incredible research centers. My state is isolated and ranks terribly in terms of equality. I have personally experienced how terrible it can be. My state would benefit so profoundly from the ideas discussed at HKS. I want to restructure advocacy work in my state to empower members of my community and create lasting change.

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1 hour ago, SeekingMPA said:

So, I am seriously considering applying for an MPA in the fall of 2022, but I want to know how realistic my aspirations are before dedicating a lot of time to my application and preparation. I am shooting for Harvard Kennedy School, Goldman, USC, and Princeton. My snapshot it:

GPA:

I graduated in 2019 with a 4.0 and as Summa Cum Laude from my state school. I also was awarded the undergraduate research scholar for my Honor's thesis and working in my Honor college's think tank. I also was awarded many merit scholarships.

GRE score:

I have only taken a cold practice GRE, but I got a 159 verbal and 155 quant (I plan to raise these both to the 160s). 

LoR: I believe my LoR will be very strong. I am having my direct supervisor, my CEO, and professor I am writing the manuscript with write them. Also, one of my best traits is my problem solving and team work (which is best reflected in LoR I think). 

Work experience:

Before graduating, I was in an array of very competitive law mentorship programs, but I had a change of heart in my senior year and went to the nonprofit world. I now work for a nonprofit that serves about 7,000 at-risk kids annually and has a $5m budget. I have increased the fundraising section I am in by over 65%, and my funds account for about 70% of the annual budget now. I also did some specialized campaigns during COVID to fundraise for lost revenue, so no one was laid off or furloughed. Anyhow, it looks like I may be getting a small promotion and begin engaging in all of our government relations within the next six months. By the time I attend, I will have about 4 years of experience. I am also going to coauthor a manuscript for publication with a professor I know. 

Quantitative skills:

I took grad level quantitative analysis as an undergrad and I am taking a few more grad courses. In my daily line of work, I use data to assess programming, communicate with stakeholders, etc. 

Extracurricular

I advise on an array of female empowerment groups in my community. I have also started mentorship programs for at-risk girls. 

Statement of Purpose:

I want to go to HKS because of its fantastic array of courses and incredible research centers. My state is isolated and ranks terribly in terms of equality. I have personally experienced how terrible it can be. My state would benefit so profoundly from the ideas discussed at HKS. I want to restructure advocacy work in my state to empower members of my community and create lasting change.

I think you are exceedingly competitive. My concern for you is how much funding you get. This year is crazy because a lot of the funding money is short + there is much less to dole out after round 1. 

If you prioritize saving a year, doing so now might be worth. I however recommend you apply for Fall 2022 in order to a. have better chances at funding going against a less competitive peer group + schools that are less resource challenged + apply in round 1 and b. Not having to worry about the COVID restrictions on campus (granted I would bet they have on campus classes). Full Normalcy is expected Jan 2022ish. 

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26 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I think you are exceedingly competitive. My concern for you is how much funding you get. This year is crazy because a lot of the funding money is short + there is much less to dole out after round 1. 

If you prioritize saving a year, doing so now might be worth. I however recommend you apply for Fall 2022 in order to a. have better chances at funding going against a less competitive peer group + schools that are less resource challenged + apply in round 1 and b. Not having to worry about the COVID restrictions on campus (granted I would bet they have on campus classes). Full Normalcy is expected Jan 2022ish. 

Wow! Thank you so much. This is fantastic advice. Applying in fall 2022 would also give me a nice chunk of time to finish my research and bump that GRE score up, which could hopefully give me a bit of an edge. 

Don't mean to be cheesy, but thanks so much for the words of encouragement. It can be scary to dream so big! 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

I'm planing to apply to Georgetown MSFS, and was wondering what are my chances:

Considering applying to: Georgetown MSFS, SFS

Grad Degree: Masters of PR from Georgetown

Grad GPA: 3.78
UG: Art
UG GPA: 3.78

Languages speaking fluently: Farsi, Arabic, Russian (Intermediate)
Years out of Grad school: 3+ years
Work experiences:
12 years as Public rations and comms 

Work experience out side of US: 5 Years in eastern EU, 5 years in Middle East 

Other work experiences: 5 Years working in DC

GRE: no

 

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32 minutes ago, TwoGradDegree said:

Hi all,

I'm planing to apply to Georgetown MSFS, and was wondering what are my chances:

Considering applying to: Georgetown MSFS, SFS

Grad Degree: Masters of PR from Georgetown

Grad GPA: 3.78
UG: Art
UG GPA: 3.78

Languages speaking fluently: Farsi, Arabic, Russian (Intermediate)
Years out of Grad school: 3+ years
Work experiences:
12 years as Public rations and comms 

Work experience out side of US: 5 Years in eastern EU, 5 years in Middle East 

Other work experiences: 5 Years working in DC

GRE: no

 

I mean there is a lot of information missing here.

1. Where did you go to undergrad and how difficult was your major? I mean some Art programs are super easy... Others are known to be painfully difficult. No one really cares what you undergrad major was, but if you did things like a honors thesis or performance, it shows that you sought challenges. 

2. Public relations and comms - that is pretty broad. Please specify your level of leadership and experience

3. Why no GRE? The only reason why I think it might matter is if you don't have any quant classes in your undergrad. There are some quant (though not crazy quant) core classes at MSFS, and good GRE Quant score would give confidence in your ability to graduate. The International Trade class (which was a core class back when I was in school) gives non-quant students lots of heartburn. 

Normally, someone who recently attended a graduate program would be free of GRE pressures, but everyone in Georgetown knows that SPS doesn't require GRE. 

4. Leadership experience? Scope of responsibility? People managed?

5. Why a Master's now? What do you want to do with it?

 

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Hi all! I'm seriously applying for MPA/ MIP programs for Fall 2021 intake, would be happy to get your input regarding my chances

Considering applying to: Stanford MIP, Columbia MPA, Cornell MPA

UG Institution: Top uni  in Indonesia, dual degree at Europe

UG Major: Economics

UG GPA: 3.43

Quant background: Advanced micro, advanced micro, math, econometrics, statistics, etc.

Work experiences:

MBB Consultant practicing public sector, a former analyst at a major wall street bank, volunteered as a teacher for underprivileged in South East Asia, volunteered for COVID-19 mitigation plan in rural areas in Indonesia

GRE: no, since Cornell no longer requires this, Stanford waived this due to pandemic, and Columbia has already waived my GRE waiver request

IELTS: no, my undergrads were fully thought in english

LoR: very strong, 1 Supervisor at my consulting firm, head of the economics department, lecturer

SoP Strength: firsthand experience in the public sector as consultant, career plan

Career aspiration: special staff to the president



 

Thank you so much for your help!!

 

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13 hours ago, mzl28 said:

Hi all! I'm seriously applying for MPA/ MIP programs for Fall 2021 intake, would be happy to get your input regarding my chances

Considering applying to: Stanford MIP, Columbia MPA, Cornell MPA

UG Institution: Top uni  in Indonesia, dual degree at Europe

UG Major: Economics

UG GPA: 3.43

Quant background: Advanced micro, advanced micro, math, econometrics, statistics, etc.

Work experiences:

MBB Consultant practicing public sector, a former analyst at a major wall street bank, volunteered as a teacher for underprivileged in South East Asia, volunteered for COVID-19 mitigation plan in rural areas in Indonesia

GRE: no, since Cornell no longer requires this, Stanford waived this due to pandemic, and Columbia has already waived my GRE waiver request

IELTS: no, my undergrads were fully thought in english

LoR: very strong, 1 Supervisor at my consulting firm, head of the economics department, lecturer

SoP Strength: firsthand experience in the public sector as consultant, career plan

Career aspiration: special staff to the president



 

Thank you so much for your help!!

 

Special staff to which President??? 

Thus far it seems like your background is very solid. What I don't understand is why you would ever want to apply to Cornell MPA. It is pretty much a 2nd tier policy school (great University name, terrible . Someone with your competitive background could do so much better.

What I also don't get is why you aren't applying to the top tier of US policy/IR programs? It would be helpful to clarify if you want your academic focus to be IR related or policy related. Right now it makes no sense that you want an IR program for Stanford and two MPA options from programs that generally use US domestic policy case studies. 

If you are looking for International development, that is another conversation to be had.

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1 hour ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Special staff to which President??? 

Thus far it seems like your background is very solid. What I don't understand is why you would ever want to apply to Cornell MPA. It is pretty much a 2nd tier policy school (great University name, terrible . Someone with your competitive background could do so much better.

What I also don't get is why you aren't applying to the top tier of US policy/IR programs? It would be helpful to clarify if you want your academic focus to be IR related or policy related. Right now it makes no sense that you want an IR program for Stanford and two MPA options from programs that generally use US domestic policy case studies. 

If you are looking for International development, that is another conversation to be had.

Hi, thank you so much for your reply!

To answer your question, I aim to become the special staff of the President of Indonesia, because now the presidential office have this program.

The reason why I apply to Cornell is for my safety net, I really want to pursue master's on Fall 2021 so I'm just increasing my chance to go. And for Stanford MIP, although the title is "international policy" but the curriculum is very much similar with other MPA programs. 

Grateful for your advise regarding my competitiveness to SIPA-MPA!

Thank you very much!!

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1 minute ago, mzl28 said:

Hi, thank you so much for your reply!

To answer your question, I aim to become the special staff of the President of Indonesia, because now the presidential office have this program.

The reason why I apply to Cornell is for my safety net, I really want to pursue master's on Fall 2021 so I'm just increasing my chance to go. And for Stanford MIP, although the title is "international policy" but the curriculum is very much similar with other MPA programs. 

Grateful for your advise regarding my competitiveness to SIPA-MPA!

Thank you very much!!

I think you very much misunderstanding the curriculum of Stanford MIP. Yes, the curriculum is more policy oriented than most other IR programs, the central focus of it is still IR related (relations between countries). There is obviously an International development component to that, but it your goal is to advise on domestic policy, Stanford MIP is not equipping your with the alumni networks + academics in the best way.

My recommendation for you is this (assuming you are still focused on domestic policy advising):

1. SIPA-MPA is great.. I would be surprised if you don't get admitted due to you highly competitive back ground + diversity

2. Drop Cornell CPA, there are much better safety net opportunities that fit you better.

These are the additional schools I recommend you add given your disinclination to take the GRE. 

a. University of Chicago - Harris (if you want to focus on a very analytically driven policy focus)

b. Princeton MPA (I'm assuming you have at least 7 years work experience). 

c. Safety - Terry Sanford MPP at Duke (I can give you other options but, this is the best in terms of domestic policy matters). 

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51 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

I think you very much misunderstanding the curriculum of Stanford MIP. Yes, the curriculum is more policy oriented than most other IR programs, the central focus of it is still IR related (relations between countries). There is obviously an International development component to that, but it your goal is to advise on domestic policy, Stanford MIP is not equipping your with the alumni networks + academics in the best way.

My recommendation for you is this (assuming you are still focused on domestic policy advising):

1. SIPA-MPA is great.. I would be surprised if you don't get admitted due to you highly competitive back ground + diversity

2. Drop Cornell CPA, there are much better safety net opportunities that fit you better.

These are the additional schools I recommend you add given your disinclination to take the GRE. 

a. University of Chicago - Harris (if you want to focus on a very analytically driven policy focus)

b. Princeton MPA (I'm assuming you have at least 7 years work experience). 

c. Safety - Terry Sanford MPP at Duke (I can give you other options but, this is the best in terms of domestic policy matters). 

Hey thanks for the input, this is super helpful! I'll research about Chicago-Harris and Princeton!

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Hi All, 

First of all just wanted to thank the engaged members of this forum - have been lurking and it's nice to see how thoughtful and caring this community is! 

I am looking to change careers via an MPA and currently work in the private sector as a management consultant (not MBB but top-tier). The goal would be to apply in Fall 2021 for Fall 2020 enrollment -- however, after reading previous posts, I wonder if I should hold off another year to make my application more competitive. 

Considering applying to: HKS, Columbia SIPA, Princeton SPIA, JHU SAIS, LSE -- honestly at this point have not done extensive research but any top tier MPA program that I have a shot at. SIPA is of interest so I can stay in New York but overall very open...
UG Institution: New York University
UG Major: Finance & Management
UG GPA: 3.78 
Years out of UG: 2 years (as of Fall 2021)
Quant background: Microecon (B+), Economics of Global Business (B), Stats (A), Calc 1 (A) - generally didn't do too hot in my quant courses...

Relevant work experience (all within the same consulting firm): 

- Lots of project management experience for a client undergoing a multi-year billion-dollar transformation program; lots of financial reporting & alignment with senior leadership; also had some quant-focused work around performance management

- Pro-bono project focused on election supply needs ahead of the 2020 General Election; main client was the founder of a non-profit start-up who was working with various secretary of states (personally had no direct contact w/ secs of state, however)

- Non-client related initiatives: Heavily involved w/ my firm's civic engagement/voting advocacy and also a separate initiative around mental health for employees
 

International experience: Semester abroad in Czech Republic, took 1 class on the Middle East at NYU Abu Dhabi

GRE: Have not taken yet

LoR: Can foresee a few strong recommendations from my current workplace; don't have close relationships to past professors, however...

Overall career goals: As it stands, I am interested in social policy, urban planning, humanitarian policy - can be either domestic or international. I am seeking an MPA to develop this knowledge-base and go from there, given my past experiences have been so focused on the private sector. 

Misc

- In college: Taught incarcerated non-violent offenders about how to navigate the college/job search, using digital tools, etc. as part of NYU's Prison Education Program

- Other paths I am considering before MPA: Peace Corps/AmeriCorps (pending COVID), completing a social impact externship (i.e. secondment) under current employer, getting more public-sector and/or international client experience at my current employer

 

TLDR: Private-sector management consultant wanting to change careers, with a focus on policy development, non-profit work, possibly working for a think tank, etc after getting an MPA. After looking at previous posts, I am not sure how competitive I am versus others, and am considering delaying applying for another year (Fall 2023 enrollment) to build up more international/social impact experience.

Am I too late for Fall 2022 enrollment? Or am I underselling myself? Any guidance would be greatly greatly appreciated! 

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2 hours ago, private2publicsector said:

Hi All, 

First of all just wanted to thank the engaged members of this forum - have been lurking and it's nice to see how thoughtful and caring this community is! 

I am looking to change careers via an MPA and currently work in the private sector as a management consultant (not MBB but top-tier). The goal would be to apply in Fall 2021 for Fall 2020 enrollment -- however, after reading previous posts, I wonder if I should hold off another year to make my application more competitive. 

Considering applying to: HKS, Columbia SIPA, Princeton SPIA, JHU SAIS, LSE -- honestly at this point have not done extensive research but any top tier MPA program that I have a shot at. SIPA is of interest so I can stay in New York but overall very open...
UG Institution: New York University
UG Major: Finance & Management
UG GPA: 3.78 
Years out of UG: 2 years (as of Fall 2021)
Quant background: Microecon (B+), Economics of Global Business (B), Stats (A), Calc 1 (A) - generally didn't do too hot in my quant courses...

Relevant work experience (all within the same consulting firm): 

- Lots of project management experience for a client undergoing a multi-year billion-dollar transformation program; lots of financial reporting & alignment with senior leadership; also had some quant-focused work around performance management

- Pro-bono project focused on election supply needs ahead of the 2020 General Election; main client was the founder of a non-profit start-up who was working with various secretary of states (personally had no direct contact w/ secs of state, however)

- Non-client related initiatives: Heavily involved w/ my firm's civic engagement/voting advocacy and also a separate initiative around mental health for employees
 

International experience: Semester abroad in Czech Republic, took 1 class on the Middle East at NYU Abu Dhabi

GRE: Have not taken yet

LoR: Can foresee a few strong recommendations from my current workplace; don't have close relationships to past professors, however...

Overall career goals: As it stands, I am interested in social policy, urban planning, humanitarian policy - can be either domestic or international. I am seeking an MPA to develop this knowledge-base and go from there, given my past experiences have been so focused on the private sector. 

Misc

- In college: Taught incarcerated non-violent offenders about how to navigate the college/job search, using digital tools, etc. as part of NYU's Prison Education Program

- Other paths I am considering before MPA: Peace Corps/AmeriCorps (pending COVID), completing a social impact externship (i.e. secondment) under current employer, getting more public-sector and/or international client experience at my current employer

 

TLDR: Private-sector management consultant wanting to change careers, with a focus on policy development, non-profit work, possibly working for a think tank, etc after getting an MPA. After looking at previous posts, I am not sure how competitive I am versus others, and am considering delaying applying for another year (Fall 2023 enrollment) to build up more international/social impact experience.

Am I too late for Fall 2022 enrollment? Or am I underselling myself? Any guidance would be greatly greatly appreciated! 

So first off, you need to appreciate that you are pretty competitive for 3 reasons.

1. Great academic background (quant and diverse experience)

2. Management Consulting is actually really desired in public sector --> means high level of employability, good experience, and makes you diverse (not many private sector consultants floating around in Policy schools)

3. Public sector exposure (you aren't one of those people doing a career change blind) --> assuming you can tell a compelling story with it.

I will tell you point blank that the two people I helped from consulting backgrounds, did really well with admissions.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that I think you should be able to apply in round 1 Fall of 2021 and do really well. Plus by the time you enroll in Fall 2022 you'll have the requisite number for consulting to look shiny on your resume for career purposes (almost 3 years + I'm assuming at least one promotion - possibly 2). The 2021 school application cycle is also expected to be less competitive than the 2020 one (though probably more competitive than the 2019 one) as you won't be dealing with so many deferrals. 

I think your big problem is that you clearly haven't done the research of what school requirements are + what programs are right for you. I says this because Johns Hopkins doesn't have an MPA degree. 

What you need to figure out:

1. Do you want to focus on International Relations / International Development? - if you want to do that it makes sense for you to focus on IR programs instead of MPA type programs?

2. How much do you care about policy analysis? - if you think you are a policy analysis person, you should try to shoot for an MPP (they compete in the same types of jobs as MPAs, but generally have a bit more of an edge on the analytical side of things).

3. If you really want to do public sector management and administration - an MPA does make sense

4. If you want to do things that interact a lot with finances (such as urban policy as it pertains to housing or anything involving tech or public private partnerships) - it might make sense for you to do an MBA. Increasingly MBA programs are have a social impact angle. More notable among them (as in those with social impact angles) are Yale SOM, Georgetown MSB, Stanford GSB, and Harvard Business School

Edited by GradSchoolGrad
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16 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

So first off, you need to appreciate that you are pretty competitive for 3 reasons.

1. Great academic background (quant and diverse experience)

2. Management Consulting is actually really desired in public sector --> means high level of employability, good experience, and makes you diverse (not many private sector consultants floating around in Policy schools)

3. Public sector exposure (you aren't one of those people doing a career change blind) --> assuming you can tell a compelling story with it.

I will tell you point blank that the two people I helped from consulting backgrounds, did really well with admissions.

Ultimately what I'm saying is that I think you should be able to apply in round 1 Fall of 2021 and do really well. Plus by the time you enroll in Fall 2022 you'll have the requisite number for consulting to look shiny on your resume for career purposes (almost 3 years + I'm assuming at least one promotion - possibly 2). The 2021 school application cycle is also expected to be less competitive than the 2020 one (though probably more competitive than the 2019 one) as you won't be dealing with so many deferrals. 

I think your big problem is that you clearly haven't done the research of what school requirements are + what programs are right for you. I says this because Johns Hopkins doesn't have an MPA degree. 

What you need to figure out:

1. Do you want to focus on International Relations / International Development? - if you want to do that it makes sense for you to focus on IR programs instead of MPA type programs?

2. How much do you care about policy analysis? - if you think you are a policy analysis person, you should try to shoot for an MPP (they compete in the same types of jobs as MPAs, but generally have a bit more of an edge on the analytical side of things).

3. If you really want to do public sector management and administration - an MPA does make sense

4. If you want to do things that interact a lot with finances (such as urban policy as it pertains to housing or anything involving tech or public private partnerships) - it might make sense for you to do an MBA. Increasingly MBA programs are have a social impact angle. More notable among them (as in those with social impact angles) are Yale SOM, Georgetown MSB, Stanford GSB, and Harvard Business School

Thank you so much for such a comprehensive response! Your first 3 points are very helpful for someone with limited contacts/experience in this area so thank you very much. 

You are definitely correct in that I haven't done nearly as much research -- I have lots to read up on! I am leaning more towards the IR/ID or MPA route as I am not as interested in what seems like a more quant-heavy MPP angle (quant/heavy analysis is not my strong suit nor personal interest). 

I have definitely considered an MBA as well and noticed there are some dual-degree programs out there (Wharton's Lauder MBA / MA in International Studies, HKS MBA/MPA-ID). I'm just not too sure if this will pigeonhole me back into the corporate world, though I think it's what I make of it in terms of post-grad job searching. 

Thank you again!! I feel a bit better about what I need to do next, and really appreciate your response - happy new year! 

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4 minutes ago, private2publicsector said:

Thank you so much for such a comprehensive response! Your first 3 points are very helpful for someone with limited contacts/experience in this area so thank you very much. 

You are definitely correct in that I haven't done nearly as much research -- I have lots to read up on! I am leaning more towards the IR/ID or MPA route as I am not as interested in what seems like a more quant-heavy MPP angle (quant/heavy analysis is not my strong suit nor personal interest). 

I have definitely considered an MBA as well and noticed there are some dual-degree programs out there (Wharton's Lauder MBA / MA in International Studies, HKS MBA/MPA-ID). I'm just not too sure if this will pigeonhole me back into the corporate world, though I think it's what I make of it in terms of post-grad job searching. 

Thank you again!! I feel a bit better about what I need to do next, and really appreciate your response - happy new year! 

Just trying to help you out - but you really got to read between the lines rather than make broad assumptions in this game or else you'll end up hating yourself later on (I know people who do).

HKS MPA-ID likes mid career professionals and is very analytically based. If you want to get an MPA from HKS, you would be better off you do the regular HKS MPA and not the mid-career oriented programs. International Development has 2 components - one is a program evaluation - which is highly analytical (but has the most job security). The other is essentially relationships management (think of consulting but from a social impact angle). You really want to distinguish which IR programs helps you with which (or at least how you can cater to it).

Wharton's Lauder program on its own is not really a big player in pumping out people who are on the International stage. Not sure how true it is, but in the Wharton MBA admissions rumor mill, the secret to improving your chances for Wharton acceptance is to dual degree, and people add the International Studies Master's to the package. Have I ever seen or heard of anybody from Penn MA International studies do anything of note in the IR space - NO. Penn is doing a lot of these grad programs because they have great profit margins for the school (I can go on and on about this).

If you really want to go the MBA route for social impact, the best way to do it is from one the MBAs I previously mentioned standalone or dual degree with a legit IR/Policy oriented program that has credibility stand alone. Unless you seek to go into VC, PE, or something crazy out there (Space Tech is something off the top of my head), going to an M7 MBA vs. a top 25 non-M7 MBA has a marginal difference (especially in social impact). Where you focus your projects, internships, and etc. matter more.

Now it is legitimately true that there is a lot off residual MBA hate in some social impact circles (everything from stereotyping, to simply annoyance at the increasing dependence on credentials, and etc.) but those are usually orgs aren't exactly the most nimble and making the most social impact. Places like Gates Foundation or Chan Zuckerberg - do however generally appreciate MBAs. 

What I recommend you do right now is move away from the names that sound appealing and really focus on what sort of jobs you really care about and do a LinkedIn search (you may have to buy a premium edition) and see where those people's backgrounds came from. If you go with the I think this name sounds cool game, you can easily end up disappointed.

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3 minutes ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

Just trying to help you out - but you really got to read between the lines rather than make broad assumptions in this game or else you'll end up hating yourself later on (I know people who do).

HKS MPA-ID likes mid career professionals and is very analytically based. If you want to get an MPA from HKS, you would be better off you do the regular HKS MPA and not the mid-career oriented programs. International Development has 2 components - one is a program evaluation - which is highly analytical (but has the most job security). The other is essentially relationships management (think of consulting but from a social impact angle). You really want to distinguish which IR programs helps you with which (or at least how you can cater to it).

Wharton's Lauder program on its own is not really a big player in pumping out people who are on the International stage. Not sure how true it is, but in the Wharton MBA admissions rumor mill, the secret to improving your chances for Wharton acceptance is to dual degree, and people add the International Studies Master's to the package. Have I ever seen or heard of anybody from Penn MA International studies do anything of note in the IR space - NO. Penn is doing a lot of these grad programs because they have great profit margins for the school (I can go on and on about this).

If you really want to go the MBA route for social impact, the best way to do it is from one the MBAs I previously mentioned standalone or dual degree with a legit IR/Policy oriented program that has credibility stand alone. Unless you seek to go into VC, PE, or something crazy out there (Space Tech is something off the top of my head), going to an M7 MBA vs. a top 25 non-M7 MBA has a marginal difference (especially in social impact). Where you focus your projects, internships, and etc. matter more.

Now it is legitimately true that there is a lot off residual MBA hate in some social impact circles (everything from stereotyping, to simply annoyance at the increasing dependence on credentials, and etc.) but those are usually orgs aren't exactly the most nimble and making the most social impact. Places like Gates Foundation or Chan Zuckerberg - do however generally appreciate MBAs. 

What I recommend you do right now is move away from the names that sound appealing and really focus on what sort of jobs you really care about and do a LinkedIn search (you may have to buy a premium edition) and see where those people's backgrounds came from. If you go with the I think this name sounds cool game, you can easily end up disappointed.

Definitely - thank you this is helpful! Agree that it's moreso me considering what jobs I am passionate about and working backwards from there, but overall leaning towards standalone IR/MPA route. Very interesting points and lots to consider! Thanks again. 

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7 hours ago, GradSchoolGrad said:

If you really want to go the MBA route for social impact, the best way to do it is from one the MBAs I previously mentioned standalone or dual degree with a legit IR/Policy oriented program that has credibility stand alone. Unless you seek to go into VC, PE, or something crazy out there (Space Tech is something off the top of my head), going to an M7 MBA vs. a top 25 non-M7 MBA has a marginal difference (especially in social impact). Where you focus your projects, internships, and etc. matter more.

Now it is legitimately true that there is a lot off residual MBA hate in some social impact circles (everything from stereotyping, to simply annoyance at the increasing dependence on credentials, and etc.) but those are usually orgs aren't exactly the most nimble and making the most social impact. Places like Gates Foundation or Chan Zuckerberg - do however generally appreciate MBAs. 

What I recommend you do right now is move away from the names that sound appealing and really focus on what sort of jobs you really care about and do a LinkedIn search (you may have to buy a premium edition) and see where those people's backgrounds came from. If you go with the I think this name sounds cool game, you can easily end up disappointed.

This is super interesting to me (pros and cons of MBA in policy work) and I would love to hear more about this in a separate thread. I've only seen some older articles or posts on this topic.

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