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Who will hire and train an absolute novice? Part 2 by Kavita Mittapalli

Kavita Mittapalli
Kavita Mittapalli

Hello! I am Kavita Mittapalli, Ph.D. 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.
Yesterday, I responded to the first question: (But) how do I find my first evaluation job?
Today, I will respond to questions 2 and 3 to the best of my ability. I am not an HR person/expert. I can only speak from my personal and professional experiences.

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

3. Will anyone want to hire a career switcher?

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

There are organziations/firms that will. They always do. They will train you. They will make you an evaluator.

I landed my first job after completing an M.A. in Applied Sociology at a small R&E firm in Arlington, VA. My boss was my mentor. She still is in many ways. I was an Agriculture graduate from India with little experience in conducting social science research. I was a novice to the field and a newbie to this country. I was a sponge.

If you are willing to learn, there are people who will be happy to show you the ropes of evaluation, research, and in general, consulting. I am still learning after 18 years!

Enrolling in a short summer course on evaluation is not a bad idea either. There are organizations and even universities that offer certificate courses and even degrees on research methods, assessment and measurement, evaluation, qualitative and quantitative analyses and so many more. If your employer pays for your course, might as well do it.

Read. Read a lot on evaluation, theory, logic models, and methods!

Read others’ evaluation reports, blogs, and evaluation journals (e.g., American Journal of Evaluation, New Directions in Evaluation, Education Researcher, etc).  

Question 3. Will anyone want to hire a career switcher?

The answer is why not?

Evaluation is a very multi-disciplinary field. It is one of the most versatile professions where I have known people come from all walks of lives.

I know practicing evaluators who are (or were) pastors, artists, K-12 teachers, counselors, therapists, musicians, doctors, sailors and pilots (true!), psychologists, sociologists, public administrators, custodians, statisticians, mathematicians, economists, anthropologists, coders, pharmacists, and of course, agriculture graduates.

After all, variety is the spice of life!

I hope this 2-part series is useful to anyone who has one or all of the life’s most pressing questions: How to Become An Evaluator and Find A Job!

Good luck!

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.

1 thought on “Who will hire and train an absolute novice? Part 2 by Kavita Mittapalli”

  1. Do you have any recommendations for a course or certificate program? In particular, I’d be looking for something that would be useful for someone working in government evaluating both the overall program I’m in and the public programs that we run. Thanks!

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