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education 5 Ways to Start a Public Policy Career

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Everyone has to start somewhere. Whether you’re fresh out of college, pursuing a Masters Degree, or maybe you’ve already earned your Masters in Public Policy, breaking into a new field is always a challenge. Here are 5 great ways to forge ahead into the world of public policy careers.

Get your MPP

Check out the average salaries of grads from the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Then look at what some graduates from the Gerald Ford School of Public Policy are doing. Having a Masters Degree definitely boosts your opportunities in this field, since public policy work deals with serious issues on a global scale. The more education and experience in the field, the better.

Pursue an Internship

This is good advice for any career path. There are several advantages to internships, including the ability to work or attend school simultaneously, make connections in your field, and the possibility of being hired at your internship. As is often the case in MPP degree programs, an internship may even be required. They also look wonderful on a resume and at first may be easier to get than a job. Check out a list of available internships.

Decide Your Specialization—But Stay Open to Change

Once you’ve obtained a graduate degree and broken into the field a bit, you’ve got a strong foundation on which to build your career. But what sort of job do you want? Public policy positions are available in every sector: private, public, and non-profit. You can get jobs specializing in the environment, healthcare, and homeland security, to name a few. Your job title can range from general (Policy Analyst, Program Manager) to specific (Environmental Sustainability Manager). In fact, you don’t need to stick with just one focus; the MPP is a flexible degree.

Be Ready to Relocate

While there are public policy jobs available everywhere, there may not be one you’re passionate about in your area. Furthermore, public policy extends overseas, and your MPP degree can take you there. Work in diplomacy and public service go hand-in-hand with a public policy background, and your knowledge and dedication may be needed halfway across the country or the world. D.C.’s Washington Post constantly has hundreds, if not thousands, of public policy jobs, so pack your bags and start your career.

It’s Who You Know—Networking

Networking is an indispensible tool for career advancement in any field. "At least 70 percent, if not 80 percent, of jobs are not published," says Matt Youngquist of Career Horizons. "And yet most people — they are spending 70 or 80 percent of their time surfing the net versus getting out there, talking to employers, taking some chances." It really is who you know. Luckily, if you’ve obtained your degree, gotten an internship, stayed in touch with professors and colleagues, and done your research, you might already know who you need to know, without even knowing it.