Asymmetric Info | Megan McArdle | Ask the BloggerI've heard statements like "I'm really interested in public policy" way too often in the last year. I'm trying my best to take off my libertarian hat here, and I still can't find any way of translating such statements into anything other than "I'm really interested in figuring out how to tell other people how to live their lives." Seriously, non-wookies, fill me in here. I'm sure most of the people who say "I want to do public policy" do have pure intentions, but how is this different from wanting to order other peoples' lives?
Which leaves me with something of a middle choice: masters programs. I'm very interested in pursuing an MPP--it seems most of those policy-related jobs that used to be available to smart BAs now require a law degree or an MPP.
[From McArdle's response.] And second, to pay very close attention to the ranking of your school within your field of graduate study. Yale has the number one law school, and an MBA program with a so-so reputation. People often erroneously assume that a top-ranked school in a field they know well must mean that all the programs are good. But even a school like Yale has some notso-hotso graduate programs.This is very, very important.
People have pretty good background knowledge of how undergrad programs stack up. Those rankings are only loosely correlated with grad schools rankings. In turn, those are only loosly corrleated with the rankings of departments in particular fields. And then those are only loosely aligned with sub-specialties within fields. Without even considering which lab you work in or who your advisor is, either of which have their own rankings and prestige, we're already pretty much entirely uncoupled from what you read in USN&WR or Princeton Review a few years ago.
Those of us who have been working for longer have noticed that shockingly few of our acquaintances are still doing data entry or driving a fork lift twenty years later. As long as you're actively looking for the next thing, and talking to employers about how you might become the worker they want, you will eventually figure out what you're good at, and find a better job.I know too many people who are terrified of sitting down with their boss and asking what they need to do to take the next step up the ladder. They're scared enough of that confrontation (or scared that the boss will tell them to work harder/longer than they want to?) that they decide to take huge gambles on multi-year graduate programs or fliers on total career shifts instead.
"Making assistant manager is hard." Okay, sure. "So I'm quitting and going to law school." Right. Because that isn't hard. Or time consuming. Or expensive.
"I don't see there being much a career path for me at IniTech." Alright. "So I'm quitting to take an internship with an event planner in Denver." I think what you meant to say was "I like reading wedding magazines and it would give me an excuse to be on the bottom rung of the ladder for a few more years."