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Perspectives of a Student & Midcareer Professional

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Monique M. Maldonado
July 17, 2015

The unknown is expected when one transitions from one career to the next. But it is also a rewarding experience to take a chance and pursue what you want to do.

I recently transitioned from the United States Air Force to further my career in public policy and education. As a fresh doctoral graduate in public policy and a lead adjunct professor, I have the experience, education and credentials to make a difference. Most new graduates would ask themselves, since I have my degree, now what? The next step would be to seek internships and/or look for careers in their profession. When you are a mid career professional and have years of expertise and training, is it easier than a student fresh of out college?

graduationOne would believe earning a postgraduate degree to be competitive, seek promotions and incentives and better pay would set an individual high above the bar. Yet, with an unstable economy, shaky job security and working more with less, this has not proven to be the case. Fields such as information technology (IT), network administration and cyber security have greater advantages for new graduates and mid career professionals, as there is an indefinite need. However, majors in public policy and government have not received recognition as an in-demand career path.

Public policy proves to be significant to society because of its direct effect on governmental matters. As previously mentioned, I want to make a difference and public policy is the platform to ensure my mission is completed.

According to David Eber, director of Admissions and Financial Aid at Carnegie Mellon University’s H. John Heinz III College, public policy professionals and students “are driven to serve the public interest and a graduate of public policy is someone who can truly change the world.”

It is apparent that careers such as consultants, researchers, analysts, collective entrepreneurs and public servants greatly affect and shape our countries’ societal matters.

Public policy is not only a vital constituent to societies’ most challenging issues, it is also a lucrative field due to specialized curricula and advanced training that originates from technical backgrounds (i.e., IT). Eber also reported that courses such as “quantitative analysis, economics, finance, management skills, policy analysis, statistics, and even as far as IT are very profitable and prepares future professionals to solve complex policy problems in all levels of government, nonprofits/NGOs, international, consulting and education.” Another positive aspect is that government and policy degrees are much more affordable than others (i.e., law school) and are focused on public service.

Despite job uncertainty, there is still a significant amount of opportunity and midcareer professionals have the upper hand and a different focus at this point. Neil Kokemueller of Demand Media expressed, “a midcareer professional has often developed significant expertise in one or more areas, often seeks promotional opportunities, and often focuses on the cultural values of the organization, along with the work itself.”

As a midcareer professional with over 13 years’ experience in military, government, national security policy and national security matters, having an educational background in public policy and education simply compliments my workforce experience. With that said, it does not make the job search any easier.

When transitioning careers, it is expected that additional education and an impressive work history, would put me in a better position to be hired. Rather it has confirmed the “brawls or boxing matches” happening. Despite an upper hand over entry-level professionals, the resume and interview process still remains and is the key to opening the door to upper management and senior level positions.

Life after graduation should not be anything short of a major steppingstone for midcareer level professionals. Continued education shows constant motivation to learn, grow and influence as well as stay abreast of changing polices and societal matters. As a public policy professional, one has a direct impact on the quality and character of the field. Parting words from Dr. Wayne Hayes of The Public Policy Cyber Website,

“As inheritors of enduring democracy, also the sole superpower, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to participate in civic affairs and as responsible citizens, we need know-how: the analytical, ethical, and practical skills necessary to effectively engage in public affairs…regard this responsibility as a long-life duty and relish it.”

Author: Dr. Monique M. Maldonado is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, educational consultant and adjunct professor. She teaches for the School of Graduate and Degree Completion Programs in the Department of Criminal Justice at Tiffin University. She is also a researcher in public policy and administration as well as national security policy and terrorism fields. For any questions or concerns, Dr. Maldonado can be reached at [email protected]

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