But, How Do I Find My First (Evaluation) Job? Part 1 by Kavita Mittapalli

Kavita Mittapalli
Kavita Mittapalli

Hello! I am Kavita Mittapalli. I own a small education research and evaluation firm,
MN Associates, Inc. (MNA) outside Washington DC metropolitan area. I founded MNA in 2004 as a graduate student at George Mason University. I have a Ph.D. in Research Design and Methodology in Education. We are a team of five evaluators with a combined 65 years of experience conducting a wide variety of social science and STEM education research and evaluation projects across the country.

My “Gentle tips for (new and seasoned) evaluators looking for jobs” posted on LinkedIn on July 5 garnered some interest and queries. Thanks to the reshares on LinkedIn and a few retweets on Twitter—it was viewed by over 5000 people across the world.

I am thankful to everyone who took the time to read. It would be a big lie if I said that I received 100s of queries and comments. There were a few–all good ones.

The job-related questions I received led me to write this 2-part piece.
The most common questions posed were: 

1. (But) how do I find my first evaluation job?

2. Who will hire and then train an absolute novice?

3. Will anyone want to hire a career switcher?

I will attempt to respond to the best of my ability, covering the first question today and the others in Part 2.

First, I am not an HR person/expert. This is not a complete list of solutions/answers by any means. I speak from personal and professional experiences and some tried and tested job searching methods.

Question 1. How do I get my first evaluation job?

The simple answer is just look around for opportunities, then apply for the job.
Here are a few ways:

a) The AEA Career Center is a great place to start.
b) LinkedIn has evaluation groups one can join, post, and apply for jobs.
d) Open a Twitter account, tweet out questions or what you’re learning about evaluation, and interact with other evaluators to add followers and get in touch with them directly to learn about their organization and ask if they are hiring.
e) Idealist is another site to look for non-profit evaluation jobs.
f) There are other associations/organizations that post ads for evaluation/applied jobs
(e.g., APA, SREE, NORC, etc)
g) There are several small-medium-large research and evaluation consulting firms in the DC metropolitan area. Do a general job search and you will be surprised to find what shows up.
h) The good old classified sections of the newspapers are useful too.
i) Then, there are Indeed and other commercial websites that may also advertise jobs.
When applying via commercial sites, it may make sense to use search terms like “data analyses, surveys, evaluator, research, data collector, etc.” to cast a wider net.
j) If you get an opportunity, you may also consider working as a consultant for individuals or firms on a part-time basis to learn about the field of evaluation. Side gigs are great resume and confidence builders.
I took small data collection, analyses, and reporting “jobs” on the side as a graduate student. Any money was good money at that time and I learned a lot.

Drop in a line/comment if you have any additional resources to share. Part 2 tomorrow will tackle questions 2 and 3. Stay tuned!

Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to aea365@eval.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.

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