Washington Evaluators Affiliate Week: Better Late Than Never by Evan Seidner

This week members of Washington Evaluators are sharing stories from their careers. From their pathways to evaluation to reflections from the field, these anecdotes, recommendations, and lessons learned remind us of the power of the story and the important storytelling role we play as evaluators.

My name is Evan Seidner, and I am the Washington Evaluators’ Program Committee Chair and Scholarship Coordinator.

I’ve been an evaluator my entire life; but it took me until my final year of grad school to figure that out for myself. I was getting my master’s degree in international relations because it felt like the logical next step as I wanted to “course correct” back into a career in security studies. My first real job after receiving my BA was in Tokyo doing procurement and financials for a Japanese grain company because I had the language skills and the willingness to hop on a flight at any moment. While working there I traveled to meet clients across Japan and the US and other countries across Asia.

Even after streamlining the company’s internal metrics and measurements to better facilitate interdepartmental data transfers I still did not know I was meant to be an evaluator. All I knew was that financials weren’t my passion, and I wanted to learn as much as I could by meeting as many people as I could. Two years later, the course I selected to fill my last requirement to finish grad school would finally introduce me to MEL. I wish I had started grad school knowing that, but ‘better late than never’ is what I tell myself to feel better.

I joined the Washington Evaluators (WE) after graduation so I could start connecting with evaluators and try and get my foot in the door. I knew volunteering for a position on the Board was the best opportunity and as a recent graduate full of free time I took the two remaining spots: Programs Chair and Scholarship Chair.  In these positions I’ve met numerous evaluators that are well known in the field, as well as the new and emerging evaluators receiving a WE scholarship. I even began my very first evaluation project by conducting an evaluation of WE’s “New Professional” scholarship at WE.

Now as I continue to get my foot in the door of evaluation, I intend on finding ways to pry the door open and keep it open for anyone else that finally learns the word for what they’ve always been.

Hot Tips

  1. Volunteer with your AEA local affiliate group – You can find that list here.
  2. Reach out to a seasoned evaluator – It may be intimidating, but I’ve found that evaluators may be the most open to helping someone enter the field of any profession.  For those who are a part of the Washington Evaluators, please check out our Career Connections program, which matches Advice Seekers and Thought Partners together to discuss evaluation-related topics.
  3. Embrace the pivot – In my case, and potentially many of ours, the pivot was between disciplines and into evaluation. It’s important to keep pivoting.
  4. Evaluate evaluation. I started with our Scholarship program, but the many mentors I’ve met are constantly updating their methods and questioning their processes.

The American Evaluation Association is hosting Washington Evaluators (WE) Affiliate Week. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from WE Affiliate members. 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. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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