Have a Master’s? Do the Unexpected with It

Have a Masters? Do the Unexpected with It - People Development Network
Have a Masters? Do the Unexpected with It - People Development Network

Use your Masters imaginatively

When you complete a Masters program you’re on one of two paths: you’re either going to use it to advance in your current field, or you’re looking to change careers altogether.  I was one of the latter, ready to leave my career of eight years to move into something new.

Most Master’s programs today prepare you for exactly what they say they will: a Master of Business Administration (MBA) will prepare you to take a seat in the boardroom.  A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) will help you get your Nurse Practitioner’s License.  A Master in Social Work (MSW) will ready you for working with any number of disadvantaged communities and populations.

However, these programs and the newest one’s out there today don’t just prep you for the traditional careers.  There are unexpected ways to use your Master’s degree.  Think outside your degree to find a new career even in your current organization.

Public Service Gets Energized

I worked for a local municipality for eight years.  Many of my colleagues held Master’s of Public Administration (MPA) degrees and administered planning and zoning departments and divisions.  In our geographical area, that’s typical for an MPA.

What isn’t typical for an MPA is to work in the field of Environmental and Energy Policy.  For decades, this has been the bailiwick of those with engineering degrees, but as noted by Ohio University’s Online MPA program, MPA holders are uniquely qualified as energy policy makers and administrators because of both their learned skills and inherent talents, such as communication skills and high emotional intelligence.

If you choose to earn an MPA, you typically desire to make a difference in your community, but you don’t have to do so as a bureaucrat or as a nonprofit manager.  Some communities’ economies are built around the use of natural resources.  Many are even building smart grids into their power systems.

Smart grid management falls not only to those with engineering degrees but those with management experience.

Nonprofits Get Innovative

Just got an MSW but want to work in an innovative social work field?  Consider taking your MSW to a nonprofit healthcare organization.  A nonprofit healthcare system in my home state offers a heart health and rehabilitation center.  One of the services provided is social work guidance via licensed social workers.  

These staff members help patients with pre- and post-care plans and transitional care.  Many have been ill for months, if not years.  Psychosocial evaluations are as much a part of transplant preparation as the physical evaluations.

Want to do good on a more global scale?  Adding a specialization in GeoHealth to your Master of Public Health can give you the technical know-how to map disease outbreaks, like Zika, for nonprofits.  It can also be used to map human migration patterns in order to study infectious diseases.

The Private Sector Gets Healthy

Private organizations and companies are also using Masters holders to improve the health and wellness of not just the world but their own workers.  At my day job, there is a workplace culture, health, and wellness committee.  Yet many companies go even bigger, taking grads and turning them into Health and Wellness Managers, one of a number of unusual careers for MBAs like me today.

Health and Wellness Managers not only promote positive corporate culture, they work with other members of leadership to keep employees physically and mentally healthy.  They cultivate partnerships with local public and private health organizations for education and services and coordinate with Human Resources (HR) departments for benefits and care.

Tech giant Google added Chief Culture Officer to the job description of its HR director in 2006.  These days, though, Chief Culture Officer or a similar position has become the coveted position of many MBAs.

Nurses holding MSNs are also thinking outside their degrees and working as entrepreneurs.  Healthcare professionals are uniquely poised to innovate healthcare technology, as they are the ones who have used it and who will continue to use it.

These unexpected careers are just the tips of the icebergs when it comes to what you can do with advanced degrees.  For many of us, it’s up to our own creativity, creating new divisions, positions, even industries.  Next, we’ll be creating new degrees.  If we haven’t already.

Hattie James, MBA

Hattie James, MBA

Hattie is a writer and researcher living in Boise, Idaho. She has a varied background, including education and sports journalism. She is a former electronic content manager and analyst for a government agency. She recently completed her MBA and enjoys local ciders.
Hattie James, MBA


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Hattie James, MBA