What were the top three things you took away from the program?
An excellent skill set, the training in economics and statistics is very useful in my research and job. The second thing that I took away from the program is valuable and interesting job opportunities through my graduate assistant work. It provided me with the ability to work in several different areas of research and with different fields of research which allowed me to increase my skills and gather valuable knowledge. I also took away from the program an excellent network of individuals that I have worked with, have mentored me, and that I have a professional relationship with.
What advice do you have for new PPOL students in regards to successfully completing grad school?
I think you have to be careful to treat graduate school and this program like it is a job, that especially if you are attending full time, you need to set work hours that you work on your class work and additional research. This is a very different experience that your undergraduate work and from Masters programs. As basic as it sounds you just have to do the work and not try to take shortcuts. In addition you need to develop your research early on and begin to work on research and present at conferences. This will not only help your future career, develop networks, but also improve your work by this forced production and presentation of research.
What job search tips do you have for current students?
You need to keep up to date with the job posting venues for what you are interested in, and looking at these before you are considering going on the market can help you know what is needed in the applications and what you could do in advance to improve your chances. In addition treat every assistantship assignment you have as a possible job interview. My current job is at an office where I worked as a graduate assistant and I would not have been offered the job if I had not treated it like an actual job. You never know what opportunities the individuals you work with can offer you down the road.
What type of job market preparations do you suggest?
Develop your research early on so that you have conference presentations and hopefully a publication or two to put on your CV. Make sure to write down for all of your assistantships what you did. You want to be able to communicate your experience and sometimes it is hard to remember exactly what you did in your first year assistantship once you near the end of your program and are preparing your CV. Take the time to consider what your research is and what are your research goals so that you can figure out what conferences will improve those and what other steps you can take now to further these goals.