I’m smiling to myself because I know that the title is a little melodramatic, but by the time I end this post, I am pretty sure you will understand the question.
This week was an interesting week as change is becoming more evident. Recently, I had a conversation with a very good friend of mine, who also happened to be my mechanic, regarding change; specifically relocation. I stated that there were four things that made relocation a little difficult: finding a new mechanic, doctor, dentist and hair stylist. He chuckled because he said that he heard that finding a new hair stylist was a task and extremely unnerving.
Nevertheless, these are the things that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I would have issue with. So, as most people are seeking other career/employment options so am I. Because I am in the last phase (dissertation) of completing my PhD, my mindset, until this past July, was to complete the degree first and then actively seek another position. Due to current “handwriting on the wall” revelations with my current institution, I have been compelled to actively seek change now.
Having said that; last weekend as I was walking through the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, I actually ran into my mechanic. He informed me that he had quit his job and was on his way to Afghanistan as a contractor. Of course I was stunned as I had not a clue, but the first thing to come to mind was “who was going to service my car? after all he had been the only person to work on my car for 10 years.” Yes, a little selfish, but honest. Of course I wished him well, but the feeling of lost was there.
Then on Friday, I received notification that my doctor, whom I have also had for 10 years was leaving the practice and going elsewhere. Another loss….CHANGE! These are the types of changes that for most are acceptable and understood.
To further delve into my week, a girlfriend of my mine, who is also a Public Administrator discussed her need and plan for change,which for me is unacceptable, but unfortunatley I understand. In a conversation with her, she said “I think I made a mistake in getting my MPA and PhD in Public Administration. Of course this turned my ears up like a doberman pincher because how could PA ever be a mistake?
She continued to state that the reason that she felt this way was because in her seeking change she is finding that PA positions are not as available as other disciplines. So, of course I had to take a hands on approach to her search, as remember, I am currently actively seeking now myself, and what we have found is the following:
1. There are very few faculty positions available in Public Administration and the ones that are available would prefer that you have a speciality such as Nonprofit Management, Public Policy or others.
2. There are a lot less Public Administration programs within 4 Year institutions and the community college programs are dwindling.
3. There are not a lot of Post-Doc positions or research positions within the field. Nor are there a lot of research stipends, funding etc.
4. The PA field does not render a lot of options especially if ones desire is to remain or enter higher ed.
My girlfriend is considering obtaining a second masters degree in Criminal Justice. This field has a wealth of positions available and seemingly attractive. Although I understand how my friend feels, I just do not agree.
Yes, I have noticed that Public Administration in a lot of institutions is not a primary discipline or one that is coveted. I agree that we could use a lot more research opportunities, grant funding, research funding and more for the field. I do believe that organizations that focus upon PA should restructure and redevelop to further move the field forward, but to feel that I have made a mistake in choosing a field? NO, absolutely not.
In my opinion, in order for our field to remain viable we have to provide the same or if not more opportunities for growth. I believe this is what is bothering my girlfriend. It does not appear to be a lot of opportunities available. It does not seem that one has options. So again, I ask where is the organizational love? Meaning where are the options and opportunities for fellow public administrators?