An article by contributor Valerie Jocums.
Everybody wants their job to be fulfilling. While most of us need to work for the paycheck to pay our bills, very few of us want to be working just to get the paycheck. That quickly leads to boredom, being unengaged, and hating our jobs. Unfortunately, nearly 70 percent of workers report feeling unfulfilled in their job.
What makes a job fulfilling varies for each person but one factor frequently mentioned is the feeling of making a positive difference. Many people who follow their interests into the workplace report they don’t see their contribution making a difference for their company or their community.
If you are looking for a more fulfilling career path, consider a Master’s in Public Administration. It will give you many of the same skills as an MBA, but it will focus more on a humanistic approach to administration, effectively preparing you for the issues of society rather than an individual business. Many of the skills you use in your current position will transition well to positions available to MPA graduates. With an MPA, you will be able to make a difference in your community.
While careers paths for an MPA focus primarily on government and non-profit, there are also opportunities in the private sector. Let’s look at examples of positions that will allow you to be productive and fulfilled.
1 City Manager
As we grow up and become connected to our community, we become more concerned about the safety and atmosphere of our city. We want to feel safe letting our kids bike to school, or when we taking public transportation. Does it seem like your city does not make smart decisions about topics that affect community health, safety or enjoyment of the city? If you are passionate about the direction your city is taking, but also prefer administration to politics, the city manager position is for you. This position bridges the gap between politics and administration, offering expert opinions to the elected city council on issues like public transportation, while also making sure their decisions are implemented.
A city manager will usually oversee all departments and staff. Strong communication and management skills are important. The other main area of concern for a city manager is the budget and coordinating daily operations also. A strong financial or accounting background would be a benefit in this career.
The responsibilities and salary of the position will vary greatly with the size of the city, but the national median is about $84,000.
2 Foreign Service
The federal government is one of the largest employers of MPA graduates. Historically, this is a field dominated by men, but has a history of talented women going against the status quo to excel here. If you would love a challenge and want to live in a foreign country, consider becoming a Foreign Service Administrator. They are stationed in embassies and consulates all around world. Depending upon your background, you could work in foreign affairs, program management, or human resources. While for many this epitomizes big government work, it is also a way to see different cultures and, depending your role, make a difference on a global level.
3 Non-Profit Director
Non-profits are a mixture of business and government. Their missions are most often like a government entity, there to serve a certain community and often with limited funds. However, like a business, they need to operate efficiently to make the best use of their funds and be able to effectively market themselves to keep the funds coming in from donations.
An MPA will prepare you well to lead a non-profit with its unique challenges. Not only will you receive the administrative and management training needed, but you will also be steeped in the philosophy and ethics of serving your community. By choosing a cause and organization that is important to you, you can combine your effective management skills with a fulfilling purpose.
Median national salary is about $64,000 but will vary on the size of the non-profit and your experience.
4 Human Resources Director
Human resources is an area where women excel and if you are already employed in this field, this would be the perfect pivot for you. All large organizations, including government entities, need someone to recruit and hire employees, manage benefits and compensation, and resolve personnel issues. A government position would require you to manage many of the same things, while also dealing with the intricacies of government rules for hiring, benefits, and compensation. With a non-profit organization, your challenge would be to find and hire talented people at the lower salaries usually offered by non-profits.
Excellent people skills, as well as attention to detail, are a must for this position. How better to help make a difference than by making sure the organization has the best talent running the business?
The national average salary is about $62,000.
5 Public Relations Consultant
While this is a less traditional role for MPA graduates, if you are already in the field of communications or marketing, this is a natural transition for you. Instead of marketing a specific product, you would be coordinating the communications of an organization. This position is needed for all sectors, but if you are interested in making a difference, you might focus on nonprofits or government positions.
You will coordinate communications between the public and your organization, positively affecting the public’s perception. Daily tasks could include writing press releases, organizing media coverage, and planning public events or fundraisers. Strong social media skills are a must in today’s always connected society.
The median entry-level salary is about $38,000.
As a student, you may never have considered earning a degree in public administration. However, if you are looking for more meaning in your career or a way to give back to your community, this might be the perfect career path for you. Adding the additional skills you develop while earning the degree to your current experience, you could excel in any one of these fulfilling careers. .