The GRE, a New Job, and Graduate School
Over a month ago, I made the life-changing decision to pursue a Masters in Public Administration. However, only now, with GRE scores in hand and the first applications to graduate school looming, am I appreciating the full scope of the changes ahead. Taking the GRE exam and making initial decisions on which schools to apply to for my MPA involved discipline, study and research. But, in many ways, those are no different than what I was trained to do as an undergraduate. More challenging was to find in this economy a job that is both temporary and enabling. I was in particular looking for a job
- from now until entering grad school;
- able to allow me to grow professionally, and
- well-enough paying to allow me to save for graduate school.
The power of networking, within and beyond ELGL, became even clearer during the job search. For example, I targeted my search with the help of many information interviews, for each and every one of them I am very grateful; also, I heard from friends and from friends of friends about job opportunities, many of which I applied to.
I learned with each rejection, making my next applications stronger. Eventually, following a reference from a former supervisor at Willamette University, I was recently hired by Linfield College to work in College Activities and Greek Life Advising. The job is a nearly perfect match for me at this time. I have prior experience and feel very confortable working in a college setting and on student issues. I like the programmatic vision and the people with whom I work at Linfield. I have the opportunity to develop my own leadership skills, while simultaneously helping potential young leaders develop into lifelong leaders. Additionally, this is a part-time position that allows me to continue to pursue information interviews relevant to choices on my MPA degree; to seek project work or part-time internships in government or public affairs, as appropriate; and to assist the Linfield College debate program.
Three weeks into my new job, I see enough growth and service opportunities in it that I need to keep reminding myself that the priority is applying to MPA programs. Based on discussions with ELGL members, my own research, and my GRE scores I am currently working on applications to the:
- Kennedy School of Government at Harvard,
- Baruch College at the City University of New York,
- University of North Carolina,
- Willamette University, and
- University of Oregon.
Although all applications have many elements in common, each poses specific challenges, often in the form of custom essays that end up leading to important journeys of self-discovery. Stay tuned!
PS: If any readers are alumni of MPA or related programs at my target schools, I would love to hear about your experiences. And of course, if you feel that I left out any school that I should absolutely not be missing, please let me know.
Reach out to Rafael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.