Post-graduate in Public Policy? Here’s how you can find that ideal job

I finished my two-year, full-time, residential course in ‘Master of Public Policy’ (MPP) recently. During the last 6 months, I devoted a substantial amount of my time looking for jobs. Elsewhere, I have mentioned the various avenues where a Public Policy graduate can get employment.

At the outset, I would like to clarify that I applied for more than 30 jobs, got a response from 12, appeared for interview in 7 and bagged offers from 2. Also, I had relevant work experience of one-year in a think-tank before joining MPP and put the extra effort of getting good marks in my masters’ degree. This guide would be helpful to those who are willing to work in India as a Public Policy professional.

Open accounts in Job portals

This is the first step. You must have your updated profile in job portals such as Linkedin, Indeed, Naukri, IIMjobs.com, etc. You should also subscribe to get the latest openings. Mention your work experiences (including internships), education qualifications, certifications/memberships, key projects, extra-curricular activities (if any) and give 1–2 lines about each. Your profile headline must explicitly express what job profile you want in an organisation. For example, if you want to become a ‘Policy Analyst’, mention that in the profile headline (even if you are not a policy analyst while applying).

Regularly follow organisations’ website to learn about new openings

Say, you wish to be a Policy Consultant in a consulting firm or you want to join multinational NGO or a reputed think-tank. The best way to secure an interview call with these kind of organisations is to apply through their website job application platform. Tweak your CV in a way that it attracts the recruiter’s attention. Ensure you attach a cover letter after doing a thorough research about the job profile and the organisation.

You can also look for openings in devnetjobsindia.org

Update your skills to industry’s requirements

One of the tough challenges of Public Policy graduates is to identify the sector in which they want to work. Some want to be generalists. While others prefer to work in a specialized policy theme — Agriculture, Education, Urban, Women, etc. The thing with specialization is that once you commit to a sector, there is a good chance that you have to continue in that. Thus, it is better that you update yourself with all relevant skills for such specialized sectors. For instance, if you want to work in Energy Policy then you must be well-versed with tools like Markal-times, energy modeling softwares. For Urban policy, GIS is indispensible.

Publish or perish

A Master in Public Policy (MPP) grad should be willing to put that extra effort to get publish. Usually, journal articles attract lot of attention but in case you get your work published in a newspaper or online news/views portal, it is equally commendable. You can sell this during your interview impressing the recruiter. Publications are an important indicator of your research, analytical and writing skills and recruiters look for these skills in a Public Policy professional.

Networking, capacity building and competition

One of the sureshot way of landing that perfect job is to find someone working in the organisation of your interest (through linkedin, facebook or mutual contacts) and using the network to schedule an interview for you. Networking is considered to be the the most effective way of getting job referals.

Another important point of note is to undertake extensive background check on the organisation even before appearing for the interview. You must check reviews on glassdoor and talk to present/past employees. This capacity building about a potential employer will restrain you from making any obvious mistake.

Finally, an applicant must be aware and informed about the competition. Imagine that you’re going to a stakeholders meeting. As a Public Policy professional, you should know where each stakeholder’s interest lies. This information will help you be prepared to tackle any conflict that may arise during the meeting and also, pushing your arguments across the room. Use this logic while hunting for jobs too. Gauge your competitors. If the Job Description says that PhDs or experienced applicants are welcome, you as a fresh MPP grad must specify why the recruiters should choose you and not them. Highlight your strengths that a PhD/work-ex person cannot have so that the recruiter make you an job offer.

Good luck!