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Question about the quality of my work experience


BJT

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Hey everyone,

 

I'm a recent graduate who's looking into M.P.P programs. I'd be applying for Fall '14 at the absolute earliest so I'm in no rush to go and haven't even started preparing for the GRE yet. Right now, I'm just trying to learn about different M.P.P programs and assess my chances as a future applicant. Right now, I'd just like to know how valuable my work experience is. 

 

Since graduating, I've worked on a political campaign and recently started working in an entry-levelish job on Capitol Hill. While I'm in the right arena, I worry about the quality of my current work experience. In my current job, I have a lot of administrative responsibilities and am pretty disengaged from the actual policy work that gets done around here. I'm thrilled to be working in Congress and if I play my cards right, there's a good chance that I will move up to doing more substantive work. With that said, in case things don't go according to plan and I get "stuck," a part-time MPP program here in D.C. sounds like a good way to advance my career. But that's beside the point--I'm pretty sure I want to pursue an MPP regardless of where my career takes me.

 

In order to be competitive for D.C.'s MPP programs, however, I'm concerned that my work experience will look weaker than it needs to be for  GWU, and American, and Georgetown in particular. I was an ok student and graduated with a degree in Political Science/Government and a 3.54 GPA from a top 20 USNWR-ranked university but have a very weak quantitative background (I took macro and stats as an undergrad but that's it). I didn't write a thesis, do research with a professor, or any of that stuff, either. Since my academic background isn't exactly stellar, I'm especially concerned about the quality of my work experience.

 

For whatever it's worth, I'm mostly just interested in part-time D.C.-area programs, although I haven't ruled out moving to other areas. Thanks in advance for the feedback!

Edited by BJT
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First off, your experience is absolutely relevant to put you into the top tier of programs. Public Policy programs value relevant work experience, but do not have the same level of scrutiny into "did they do sufficient ladder-climbing at X job" like a 10 MBA admissions program might.

 

Ensure your application will read like this:

1. High GRE score

2. Two Years Hill Experience focusing on X

3. Solid SOP that ties in very well with Hill work experience, good understanding of future goals

4. Fine GPA / Great School

5. Solid LOR's

 

Don't focus on the 'administrative responsibilities' aspect of your work in your resume/SOP. Focus on how the work you did impacted a mission/goal/law and why it's interesting to you.

 

Secondly: Avoid the whole rankings thing. Also, none of the part-time DC policy programs are particularly difficult to gain acceptance to. (funding however, will probably not exist for the part time programs. From the perspective of the very expensive DC-area schools, they'll be more than happy to take your $$$)

 

Third: Be able to draw a clear picture of how a part-time MPP will be able to help you further your career (with a clear picture of what that career will be), and run this idea by some people on the Hill a little further along then you...I think you'll be surprised by their input.

 

Final point: Don't sell yourself short. People (admissions, recruiters, future employers) only believe what you tell them, and if you start off with 'well I only did administrative work' your perspective-alone would be discouraging. I'm in DC as well, and the vast majority of the people here are completely full of sh*t with their resumes and pompous with how they present themselves - while I don't advise this, aim for the middle ground.

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I agree with the previous post. You'll be surprised to know how much of the 'substantive' jobs are also just fluff. Make a good case for yourself and sound confident about your future plans. You have the relevant work experience so don't underestimate your profile. Take some part-time econ classes to make your quant background better. They would like to see that you're making an attempt.

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