Saturday, July 4, 2009

What the Future Holds

One of the great things about being in drydock, is that it gives me plenty of time to plan my next move professionally. The Coast Guard has already accepted me into their Advanced Education program for a Masters in Public Administration. Now it's up to me to decide what school, where, with what focus.

It should be of no surprise to *anyone* who knows me that I've already been through about three iterations of the plan (Anne :), thanks for being so patient with listening to me stew through them all). But I'm developing a new plan. Shocker, I know. I guess that's one way in which the Coast Guard and I really do get along...nothing is for certain in the Coast Guard until it actually happens, kinda like one of my plans.

Here's my thought process:
-Location, location, location: I am really tired of moving around. I've been in the CG for (one month shy of) 10 years. In that 10 years, I've had seven jobs, in six locations...but that doesn't count the two months of Basic Training in New Jersey, four months of Officer Candidate School in Connecticut, 10 weeks of Tactical Action Officer School in Rhode Island or the two months of Pre-Deployment Training in Virginia...or the five month drydock away from homeport. I need to be in one place for more than a year or two. Because of the program I've chosen, I have three choices for locations of my pay-back tour (the required follow-on job, since the CG will be nice enough to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for my degree): most likely is Washington, DC at CG Headquarters, and significantly less likely at either Alameda, CA or Portsmouth, VA.

In this decision process, and god knows it is a process, I've used that location issue as the basis for starting to look at schools. In those three areas are some good schools:
Washington, DC area (heavy emphasis on the "area" part) has American University, George Washington University and University of Maryland at College Park (Sis, I know your mouth is hanging agape at my suggestion that I'm considering College Park, but this is all still very early discussion stages yet).
Alameda, CA has University of California at Berkeley. And that's it for schools ranked 50 or below in the entire San Francisco area. I was really shocked. I mean Berkeley is ranked two or four depending on who you ask, but still. And I would have to do some fancy talking to get the CG to send me's a longer program than the others and kind of a long-shot for the payback tour.
Portsmouth, VA area has Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. Neither of these are ranked...bummer. The beauty of this location is that I could potentially spend the rest of my career here because there are numerous ships homeported here, and I still want my O4 XO/CO and O5 CO (hopefully) rides.

Next comes consideration of what focus I want my for my program. I had originally thought that an environmental policy would be just the thing. I could look into what it would take for the CG to move to more environmentally friendly fuels, like biodiesel, for their fleet of vessels. But then, as part of the application process, the schools want to know what my goals are, short and long term. What I really want to work with is local food systems, how to develop them, nuture them and sustain them. But...I can't quite figure out how to do that and make it relevant to my CG career. Not without getting into some heavy-duty logistical bean counting. And I'd much rather grow the beans and eat the beans, than count the beans.

I started looking at other options, and found that most schools offer a Leadership focus. They pretty up the name and make it sound a little more impressive, but it comes down to how to influence people. I think this may be a great fit. I can certainly draw on my previous experiences with useful anectedotes and scenarios for discussion. And I still have a lot to learn about organizational leadership and how people work best in different environments.

Am I on the right track here? Is my thought process sound? What haven't I considered?


Just a Girl said...

Oh yeah,
Happy Fourth of July!!

Victoria said...

How about the University of Virginia? Not so far from either DC or Portsmouth, and lord knows unbelievably beautiful.

I'll forgive you for not coming to Stanford!

Happy Independence Day!

Victoria said...

Batten School of Leadership & Public Policy, I mean, at UVA.

Victoria said...

Oh, forget it. Batten doesn't accept outside applicants. Stupid.

uncle heathen said...

Don't forget the competing NC school, neighbor of which you are a graduate-
I understand it has a fine reputation and may give you a leg up on the revolutionary streak you display.

Jay said...

Stay away from DC. It is a pit from which endless reams of bureaucracy flow.

More seriously, it is a place where my experience was getting caught up in the throes of someone's empire building, and where the work done was of little or no value.