4 Tips for Students to Land a Public Administration Job

You want to build a career in a field dedicated to social justice, public ethics, and government, so you’re getting your degree in public administration. Your MPA degree will open many doors in a growing political climate, where the job outlook is projected to climb at a faster than average rate over the next several years. In order to graduate as a top pick and be able to land any job you want, you will want to stay competitive, plan ahead, and build your resume well before you graduate.

Look for a Place at the Bottom

You’ve worked and toiled through your undergraduate and master’s degrees and you may be expecting a coveted place at the top, but this is short-term thinking. The field is highly competitive and you will graduate with little, or no, real world experience.

You will want to start by looking for a top internship at a high-profile agency, non-profit, or healthcare organization before you graduate with your MPA. When you have graduated, expect to start at an entry-level position. If you want to work in the best agency or organization, you will have to earn your stripes with them and prove you can handle the hard work. Worry more about the direction of your career instead of your starting position.

Join a Professional Organization

When you graduate, you will want to have impressive points on your resume. From your GPA to the organizations you are a part of, consider carefully what you can do to boost that first impression with the agency that will be considering you for an internship or job right out of school. Joining an organization like the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) will show you are serious about your career and will help you build better connections with other professionals in your field.

Choose Your Direction Early

You will want to have a clear focus on how you want your career to shape out over the years. With an MPA, you will have many options in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, and you will want to choose extracurricular activities, volunteer work, organizations, and specific classes to move toward the career you want. For example, a political speech writer and an urban planner will both need an MPA, but take a much different approach to education and preparation.

Participate on Campus

Look into ways you can be a participant on campus and don’t solely focus on your outside activities. If you are planning on a political career, you will likely benefit from joining your university’s student government. If, however, you are hoping to go toward a non-profit or public sector job, you may want to consider joining a group that focuses on volunteer work in the community or works to develop something like student diversity on campus.

Don’t wait until you are looking for a job to think about the things that will make you a better candidate. Start working toward your desired career well before it comes time to look for that entry-level position.