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For most people, a graduate degree is supposed to be the “specialization” degree. For a Master’s degree in particular, the idea is usually, “Work for a few years, figure out what your career trajectory is, then go to graduate school to tech up.” Having spent the previous four years of my life being involved in public policy in the Malaysian public sector, I shared that same idea – this is my line, now let me go tech up in graduate school and come back with a wider skill set.
To be fair, I am still pretty much sold on my Malaysian public sector path. And, sure, what I’ve learned so far in my time at the Kennedy School (not particularly long yet in fairness) will definitely put me in a better position to do well (and do good) in that path. What I’ve come to learn, however, about the MPA/ID Program is that this same toolkit is applicable in nearly every field of development I could have conceived. Thus, while I came in thinking that this degree would help me specialize in my field, I now see that this degree also opens many new doors for me, should I choose to pursue those doors.
The reason is that the skill set taught by the faculty in the program is so widely applicable to a host of development paths – whether a person wants to be involved in RCTs, development consulting, NGO project management in failed states, central banking, international organizations like the World Bank or the UN.
And so, in an “I-really-did-not-see-this-coming” way, while I came to the MPA/ID Program to tech up in my particular field, I ended up being trained to tech up in a whole host of development careers. Leveling up has never been this fun.
Nick Khaw completed his undergraduate work at Harvard, graduating in 2009 with an Honors A.B. in Economics. Prior to his enrollment in the MPA/ID Program, Nick served as an Economist with Khazanah Nasional Berhad and the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department of Malaysia.