My last post was before I finally secured a position at PATH in Seattle. Suffice to say I have been busy since my August 2010 start as a Program Assistant (“PA”) in the Vaccine Access and Delivery Global Program. I’d like to say that I make a decent amount of money to pay my huge student loan bill every month, and that I have an amazing title that screams: “Hey! I have my MBA!” But neither of those are true. What IS true is that I have definitely checked off many of the post-MBA job “must haves” on my list including:
- Mission-based work. Check!
- Smart people around me. Check!
- International environment. Check!
- A large organization. Check!
- Not a start up company. Check!
- Belief in the work my organization does in the world. Check!
- A supportive mentor. Check!
- Proud to work at my organization. Check!
- Committed to my organization. Check!
I’m not the only one with a masters degree in this level of a job here, and it’s even worse next door at the Gates Foundation. But what I didn’t realize when I took this job was what a big deal it is to secure even a full time PA job at PATH without years of applying and/or temping. The demand to work here far outweighs the supply of jobs, and it’s just getting more and more competitive. Even with my current position, I constantly have people who want to talk to me about my work and the organization, which is a really exciting position to be in.
Getting your foot in the door is one thing, but the culture here is also one of having to pay your dues and work your way up. Sometimes it’s very tough to be patient when you feel that your drive, skill set, education and desire to do more is just not panning out in your daily duties. I try to stay positive, remember my long list above, and be grateful that I have a loving husband that supports me in all sorts of ways, including financially, enabling me to work here. I am also thankful that I happened to stumble into the world of international development by taking this job, although the universe had definitely been steering me here for some time.
And I have to say, that things are finally starting to turn a corner for me and my particular part of the organization: we have a new Program Leader, a new private industry CEO starting in a few days, a project base that went from 3 to 12, and some great new colleagues. What this means is that I am finally starting to be in a position where the program’s growth will allow me to take on more “suitable” responsibilities at first informally, and then formally with a brand spanking new title hopefully within 12 months. In just the past few weeks I have been handed substantial projects within my program that are setting me on my way, and giving me opportunities to show those around me what I can really do. With that will hopefully come chances to work in the field, on the programmatic side, and be closer to the work and in less of a support role. These is where I want to be and should be.
Now it’s just up to me to continue to go after what I want out of my career and stay committed to my work and PATH’s mission. I want to use my MBA for good in the world, and even though I could be working at a higher level and pay upstairs at Amazon, I am and will continue to be a much happier and healthier person by staying put, just where I am.