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Government Internship or MPA? Advice?


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I am currently finishing up my undergraduate degree in health sciences and would like to eventually work in the field of health policy and administration. Other than short summer/part-time experiences, I don't have much work experience. I have been offered admission to a respected MPA program for health policy that has high placement rates within the government. I may also be offered a competitive two-year paid internship in policy development with the government but this would not necessarily be in health policy since it involves rotations within the government.

It seems good to get experience yet I fear I may never end up going back for my graduate degree, which I feel is important in this career and has been a personal goal as well.

Any thoughts/advice on how to make this decision would be greatly appreciated.

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I wouldn't fret so much about never going back to graduate school, especially since you are interested in professional 2-year programs rather than 5+ years PhD programs. If you really want to, you'll find a way back. You have a transition point to try again after your two-year internship is up. Then again, you seem really set on your career goals, so perhaps there is no reason to delay grad school if the job seems so-so.

If I were you I would ask myself these types of questions:

-Do you have ambitions to get into a higher ranked program than the one that accepted you? If so, I'd work and then reapply. You would almost certainly get in to the program that accepted you the first time, and perhaps a few more.

-What about money? Do you feel comfortable with the financial/merit aid package you received from this school? Would it help to earn income first? Do you think your financial aid offers may improve after a few years?

-Will the non-health policy aspect of the internship be a problem, or could you find placements that you think you would enjoy/have some control over?

-Do you expect any major family/lifestyle changes between now and the next time you apply that could make the timing more difficult? (Not that you can always predict these things, nor are they likely to be obstacles.)

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Thank you very much jndaven! Those are some really good questions to consider. I will definitely think them through.

I am actually less sure of my career plans than I sound. I don't have much experience in this field so I guess I won't know for sure that it's for me until I'm working in it full-time. Anyway, Thanks!!

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