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I will be very blunt without trying to be modest because I need some real career advice. Talking to friends, family and career advisers are not helping. I need some real advice from INTJs who get me.

English is my second language. I graduated top of my class in an enormous public high school in the U.S. and made it to an Ivy League with no money or connections. Graduated honors from there in political science and didn't get into PhD programs, as planned. During college, I could not do unpaid internships to make job connections either, I was doing work-study. Then, I was offered two MAs from some top schools, unfunded. Turned those down and got a funded MA the next year. I took off law school as an option for funding issues too. Now I am thinking about applying for political science PhDs again, but the fact is that I do not want to teach. I want to have some real world political effect. Work in the UN or some international organization in Europe or Asia.

I thought about not doing a PhD and going for jobs instead, but I keep running into the issue of "who you know, not what you know." To date I have only been in menial assistant jobs that were not even in my field. This has gone on for three years now and I am frustrated. How is a young person to get experience if you even want the entry-level folks to have 5 years of experience? On my first menial job I even faced overt verbal racism. In one job interview I was asked if I wanted to go back to my Middle Eastern country (I am not Middle Eastern, I am just "of color"). I want to get a PhD so that I can be overqualified and break past the barriers I keep running into. Like a typical INTJ, I want to overcome issues with merit. It is quite naive.

After working hard for so long I feel no sense of accomplishment and feel quite down about my career. I am starting to doubt whether I will even get into PhD programs. MIA and MPAs are not funded, so PhDs seem like a good way. Since one MA is not translating into work, I am worried about getting another MA. The last thing I want to do it get into massive loans and end up working just to pay of that loan. As you can see, I am sounding quite angry now. It has been years of looking for opportunities with no results. Even for a strong INTJ in a bad economy, it can be daunting to work so hard past economic barriers and social barriers to get a college and graduate degree only to be faced with menial office level redundancy. I have served my dues, I cannot do anymore.

Please don't say I should have done hard science. I was good in those subjects, but this is the path I chose because I like philosophy and political thought. Activism and politics is my forte. A great job would be one in a foreign country where I could work on development, women's empowerment and the like.

Thank you for reading that rant. Looking forward to your take.
 

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As you, I have studied political science and wanted to continue with a PhD but couldn't due to funding issues. Partly my own fault since I chose house and family at an early stage and with those came some serious economic responsibilities.

One observation I made on the way was that while being in school and later studying at the university there is always a sense of development and linear progress. You put in hard work, use your intelligence, and as a reward you level up. I think part of the dream of going for PhD is that this will continue.

But as soon you are out in the job market, everything is messy and merit is no longer automatically rewarded. The linear career path is a myth. Of course, some people are lucky to be in the right place at the right time, or to know the right people. For the rest of us, there is very little control over the situation. To make things worse, I think it is very difficult to start your own business based on your knowledge in political science and interest in politics/activism. Most of the things you know and want require long term engagement and collaboration - not something that you can easily turn into a service or product. Not impossible, though.

I tried actual politics by running in a municipality election. While it was very inspiring to strategize and plan the entire thing, all the meetings and interactions with other people drain way too much energy. The extravert will always be steps ahead of you. And I suppose this gets massivly worse the higher up in politics you get. No, much better to analyze politics instead of participating in it.

I can't give any specific advice on how to find some meaningful jobs in politics/activism because the only way I can imagine is through networking, internships, voulunteer work and so on which will hopefully get you further up in some organisation. But I guess you have already tried most ways.

What are your backup plans? Let's say a Random Omnipotent Being appears and makes it absolutely clear that you have no hope of finding a job in your current area. All your studies have done you good and given you tools to make sense of the world, but that's it. If you knew this for sure, what would you do?
 

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I want to get a PhD so that I can be overqualified and break past the barriers I keep running into.
I don't believe this strategy will work. Being overqualified makes you too expensive to hire for the job and too risky that you'll take off the second you get a better job. If you don't want to teach, I think going to law school would be more helpful. But with a masters I'm sure you are more than qualified to do political work.

Like you said, it's who you know. So you have to find people. If you like politics and activism on the national and international level, you need to get in and meet some congressmen and senators from your state. You can start with your actual congressman, if he/she is the same political party as you. You don't have to be best friends with them, most are happy to help politically active people who will vote.

Or you could apply for a job at a think tank or a PAC, or a consulate. But again, it's not what you know.....

Another idea could be to work as a translator, depending on what your native language is and how many people speak it. Then you'd be in and talking to the people you want to get to know.
 

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@Pam

I am also an INTJ "political scientist"! It's just rotten hard to get into a PhD program these days. However, I get the impression that work experience is helpful on a CV--so even if you've been working menial jobs, if you can make a case for having learned something, that might help? (I don't know how recently you've applied)

What are your quantitative skills like? STATA, SPSS, R, Excel, maybe MATLAB? If you want to gun for an analyst position (in a think tank, e.g.) this will be helpful. Also if you've had a decent amount of economics, I've heard? The great thing is that you can teach yourself to use these things, if you want them. There's enough free-ware (and, er, informally available non-free-ware) out there, and plenty of tutorials. I've been liking Coursera, recently, to bone up on my game theory. (I hate the way game theory is usually treated in this field, btw... but know the rules before you break 'em, maybe?)

Also--you're fluent in a second language? Which one? Did you live in the place where that language is spoken (I'm assuming yes?)? Because that should open up jobs... even (especially?) in the private sector. Or can you get a job over there for awhile--as an interpreter, or language teacher, or etc.--because that should also enhance your credit (and it might be kind of fun?).

Smaller NGOs will make you work harder and pay you less... *but* they also tend to have more slots available. And you can wear many hats. Not as prestigious, but if you do something interesting in that environment and mention it in a personal statement, that may catch people's attention, unless you're applying to... you know, Columbia, etc.

Also, if you like research, finding a program that meshes with your interests, but is less popular might be a way to go. If you can get some things published while you're working on a degree, not going to a top-10 or top-20 may not hurt your career, because you don't want a tenured position.

I am saying these things, because this is what I was thinking to myself after I got shot down from PhD programs. Which is a shitty thing to have happen, btw, and a real confidence killer.

As for the POC thing, man--it is f**king f**ked up that people have been messing with you. And I don't know much about how one deals with that. There are a couple of things about me that put in me into one kind of "minority", but they aren't immediately visible to anyone who doesn't know me very well, so...

Anyway, you're not alone in feeling a little bit bereft in today's economic environment, so.
 

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In politics and activism there is virtually nothing objective.

So it is all about social connections, by definition.

I do not really see why you are complaining.
 

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I won a diplomatic victory in Civilization 5 if that counts. :proud: Then they came to try and stop me since I decided just because I could to embargo spices on grounds of being morally dangerous. The events that happened occurred pretty much 100% like this.


On a serious note could I see myself doing it? I really doubt it. I don't have the patience for people like that. Would I be good at it? If I set my mind to it, sure. I think the best demonstration of your skill would be to work your way up the good old fashioned practical way.
 
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