How to Land Your Dream Job in Public Administration

Posted July 26, 2012 by

Your public administration degree has prepared you for a variety of occupations you probably never dreamed possible. From your state’s supreme court and various charitable organizations to nursing homes and the Nuclear Regulatory commission; all of these career paths are possible with a degree in Public Administration, and plenty of hard work. If you’re a recent graduate, or interested in this highly-lucrative and rewarding field, here are a few ways to get a leg up on the competition, and maybe even land a job beyond your wildest dreams.

The Many Benefits of Graduate School

As competition for jobs in several fields, including state, local and national government, non-profits and healthcare, become more intense, several employers are expecting that even entry-level applicants hold a Master’s degree in Public Administration, Master’s in Management or a related field. This isn’t always the case, and in many instances your Bachelor’s degree might be enough, but it won’t get your resume to the top of the list. Beyond this, there are several other benefits to gaining your Master’s in Public Administration, including:

  • Ability to Specialize: Many are likening a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) to a traditional MBA, although the two concentrations are very different. An MBA program typically focuses on the business aspects of an organization, while an MPA prepares students to handle the social and ethical components of the field. An MPA will allow you to specialize, and concentrate on specific areas within the field, including policy analysis, public affairs, governance ethics and political science.
  • Potential Job Growth: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the field of Public Administration is expected to grow over the next 10 years. More specifically, organizations and governmental agencies will be hiring candidates with the knowledge and expertise that is only obtained through a Master’s degree program.
  • Earning Potential: One of the major draws of public administration is the ability to earn a healthy salary, which becomes more possible after earning a Master’s degree.

Landing a Top Internship

Achieving your ideal position in public administration is often made possible, or at least more realistic, after landing a coveted, high profile internship. Even if your internship doesn’t end with a firm job offer, working for a top governmental agency, local non-profit or healthcare organization provides you with more than an impressive addition to your resume. The connections you make will often prove invaluable once you enter the job market. So remember while you’re performing grunt work, answering phones and fetching coffee, get to know your employers and peers, as their assistance might make or break your future earning potential.

Be Prepared to Start at the Bottom

You’ve toiled for four to six long years to earn a degree only to discover that the job market is highly competitive, and your advanced degree and stellar recommendations can only secure an entry-level position. Instead of becoming frustrated, turn your energy into performing your duties beyond the best of your ability, because many local, state and governmental agencies prefer to promote from within rather than hire from the private sector. If you’re toiling within one of these practices, don’t be afraid of a little hard work, because this combined with a Master’s degree will often help you achieve a high level position and all of the prestige and compensation that comes with it.

Other Tips and Hints

Landing a coveted position in public administration depends on a combination of the right degree, real world experience, a prestigious internship and most importantly, a lot of hard work. Beyond this, here are a few final hints, tips and suggestions to help prepare you for this highly competitive, and constantly evolving, field:

  • Consider pursuing a law degree if you plan on working in upper-level management or politics.
  • Prepare yourself for many careers in state, local and national government by participating in your university’s student government.
  • Study a position’s application process. Many governmental and state agencies have specific application rules and deadlines, which must be followed precisely.
  • Remain flexible. Above all else, don’t be afraid to apply for a number of positions in your area of expertise, or even branch out and attempt to gain employment in a completely unrelated field.

Your career in public administration is full of possibilities, so don’t limit your potential with a Bachelor’s degree. If the rigors of a traditional campus-based Master’s program don’t fit into your present lifestyle, consider earning your advanced degree through any number of accredited online universities.

About the Author:

A veracious writer, Barbara Reynolds turned her passion for words into a blog highlighting her other passion: Public Administration.   As an urban planner for the last 10 years, Barbara has seen firsthand how dedication to personal growth leads to career opportunities.  She began as a low-level secretary and used ambition and night classes to work her way to the top of the industry.  With her writing she hopes to turn her experience into a step-by-step guide for the novice and motivated. 

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