Originally Posted by surrender
I'm starting on my MA in international affairs this fall, and from the looks of it, I'm going into a life of cushy middle-class government jobs. Fair assessment?
Probably eventually, but it can be a hassle in the short term. With an MA in IA, I assume you're looking at federal jobs, correct? These are a pain to get, and they take forever to go through the hiring process.
In my experience people vastly overestimate the ease with which one can get a government job. It's tough to get a decent entry-level job without experience, especially in IA. The market is awful right now because there are tons of people looking for a safe government job. You say you're just starting your degree, so you have time for some economic recovery, but that isn't going to happen particularly fast. There are A LOT of people with MAs looking for federal jobs, and the first cuts are for veteran's preference and experience. It's great if you have a master's degree, but if the guy next to you has a master's and two years with the Peace Corps (or a tour in Iraq) you almost might as well forget about that position.
Your area of concentration also matters. It helps to study what's chic right now. I have a friend with an MA in IA. He did a lot of work on non-prolif, and and he's screwed because no one cares about that stuff right now. We're too busy with other problems.
It also depends upon the quality/perceived quality of your school, but even this doesn't make it a lock. My MPA is from a top five program, and there are colleagues of mine who are unemployed after finishing their degrees. Granted, these aren't exactly the best in our program, but they still have an MPA.
Is there any particular reason you're getting an MA? Most MAs in IA are tracked toward academia, if you want to be a practitioner I would consider either an MIP or an MPA. Also, my above statements are predicated on the assumption that you're looking for federal work. If you want to work for state/local government, I would not get an MA in IA; I would be seriously considering an MPA.