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Welcome to the World of a Job Searching Grad Student/Policy Wonk!

I’m a full time grad student in Public Policy that is beginning my final year of school. This
means that I have to find a job soon.
Sigh. Since I’m a health policy
wonk, I’m thinking that the Government may be a good fit for me. This blog is going to document my final
year of school, mostly from the job search perspective. I’m going to be applying for the
Presidential Management Fellow program, as well, so that process will also make
quite a few appearances here.

And we’re off. The marathon that is the final year of graduate school has begun. I can’t believe that I’m already half
done with my Master’s in Public Policy.
It feels like only yesterday that I was taking the GRE, writing
application essays and trying to decide where I should go to school. I ended up
in a small program near Boston, my home for the past eight years.

Now that we are in our second year, the required, program wide classes are pretty much done and my classmates and I are taking classes
related to our concentrations.
Mine is Health Policy, so I’m fully back in the world of DRGs, ACOs, and
all the other fun health care acronyms!
It is a bit weird not seeing my classmates every day, but we still have
one class together and try to socialize outside of school at least twice a
month- we are all trying to take advantage of our student schedules while we
still can.

Of course, school is still everyone’s number one priority and classes, group projects, readings and meetings take up most of our
time. I’m still getting used to my
schedule of classes and commuting during the rush hours again. My credit card statement has
nearly a page of charges from Amazon, all of which were books for school. School is definitely back in session.

Now that school is back in full swing, our Career Services office is having weekly presentations. This week, we were reminded that it’s
never too early to start networking that will help us get jobs in the not too
distant future. Professional social networks, not just Facebook, should be high
on our List of Ways to Procrastinate that Paper. It seems a bit strange to remind a group of mostly
20-somethings that social networks will be our friends in the job search;
however, most of us joined Facebook in college, when the only other people on
Facebook were our fellow undergraduates.
Professional social networks were not on anyone’s mind. When our senior year of college arrived
and we began our first real job search, we still had to do our networking the
old fashioned way- through internships, summer jobs and friends’ parents.

We also got a quick summary of next week’s presentation- the Presidential Management Fellowship program. Any one who is planning on applying is expected to be
there. Apparently, there have been
some big changes made, both at the school and federal level, so we should be
prepared to write more essays and have an in-person interview. Anyone who is thinking of working for
the federal government is being highly encouraged to begin the nomination
process. Our Career Services staff
also reminded us that over 80% of jobs with the federal government are located
outside of Washington, DC, so geographic location should not prevent anyone
from applying. Of the recent
fellows from my school that accepted a position, 50% chose Washington, DC and
the other 50% chose other locations, mostly Boston. I’m very torn on staying in Boston or moving to Washington,
so I’m glad that I don’t have to start making that decision yet.

The PMF is a great way to start a federal career and while I’m not sure exactly what I want to do when I graduate, I think that having PMF
as an option would be great.

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Stephen Peteritas

Interesting choice. If you’ve been in Boston for a while I say gt out better to do your shuffling around while your young.

Julia Tanasic

Happy to see that you are sharing your grad experiences here. Being an IR grad student myself, you do want to get away from FB to more professional social networks to connect with people who are actually out there and practicing your future job in your field. Sometimes what you aspire to do, does not always end up just the way you envisioned it. Here you can talk to gov members and get a feeling for what to expect. Even more insightful is the amount of resources you will find (files, data, etc.) which I tend to use to get a better understanding for my next paper, presentation or class discussion.

Attia Nasar

Hey thanks for sharing, this is awesome! I’m also in my last year of grad school and considering similar options for after graduation. I’m going to apply for the PMF as well so we will have to share our experiences. I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Chris IRS Recruiter

You’re right, the Presidential Management Fellowship program is a great way to start a federal career! I recently moved to DC for a federal job, and have really liked the pace and opportunities that have come my way in the IRS Recruitment Office. The PMF fair is a great place to meet people from lots of agencies, including some you might not consider up front (like, maybe, the IRS?! haha). I’ve been surprised by the number of different jobs we have, myself – it’s definitely not what you expect when you hear “IRS”! (And, like you mention about jobs outside the beltway, IRS is one of many agencies that have offices all over the country.) Good luck with your search-can’t wait to see where you end up!

PS – If you’re curious about IRS jobs, check out our careers website, at http://www.jobs.irs.gov.

Bilaal Ahmed

Hey Anita – great post and good luck on the job search and I completely agree on the PMF route. If you’re still inclined to find work in DC, I’d recommend trying Jobwonk.

Carol Davison

you must go to DC. There are many agencies to progress your way through and all the high grades are there, and you won’t have to move later.

Can you direct me to the PMF page that appeared recently? I have a friend who needs to apply.