which path to take?

The other night, I met up w/ my P&G bestfriends, Murf and Bambi. Last night, Mike and I had dinner with Tito Luis and Tita Amy, two of my dad’s closest friends in college. Thanks to these dinners, I’ve been asked this question for two nights in a row now: What do you really want to specialize in?  That question is closely linked to another one:  Gee, what is it that I really want to do in life?

To answer, let me backtrack a bit.

I left a budding P&G career to go to law school because I wanted to continue my Dad’s legacy in public service. I secretly hoped of doing things he would’ve wanted but never got around to do – be the Ombudsman and join the judiciary. But my not-so-lustrous stay in law school told me that I’m no political and criminal law wiz, as did my super lack-luster poli law performance in the bar.

Before helping out in Koko Pimentel’s campaign, I also dreamed that I’d one day enter the political arena. However, given the current state of Philippine politics, that’s not a very feasible goal for a person such as me – one without political pedigree nor millions nor fame to boot. Also, I’d have to play the game. Knowing myself, I could pull that off. But the real question is, would I really want to?

In my final year in law school, I was an RA for a US AID project.  Thanks to that day job, I became exposed to policy work from the consulting side, and to customs and trade advocacy.   I enjoyed that stint so much that it inspired me to specialize in international trade law and either join the World Trade Organization or help out with the ASEAN integration, specifically trade policy from a legal perspective – that is, if there were no financial constraints and no other person to consider.   Considering, however, that my husband does not want to settle down in a place other than in the Philippines, it may be better for me to gun for a post in ADB or World Bank to be able to do that still.  However, given my current educational background, I would either have to:

a.  Wait for 10 years before getting into those organizations as part of their legal team – if so, if and when I get there, I would be doing mostly contract reviews probably.  Not really dabbling in policy-making.

While waiting, I would just:

i.  Stay for 2-3 years in this firm

ii.  Teach on the side starting next year  (I think teaching runs in my veins, no matter how I try to deny this.  I come from a family of educators)

iii.  Be an in-house counsel for some banking or financial institution

b.  Study again – This option, which would probably take 5-7 years to accomplish triggers other questions, such as:

i.  Which program?  – I’m thinking either MS Devt Econ or Masters in Public Adm para local lang.  (eventually, pwede rin yung Erasmus LLM in Econ and Law, which requires a first Masters degree – mangangarap na rin naman ako, di ba?  or MS Devt Econ then PhD in Public Adm)

ii.  When?  – Probably 2 years from now if MS Devt Econ?  We would have paid off substantial portions of our house’s amortization then, and also I would’ve already earned a substantial amount of learnings from firm life.  Although I’m also inclined to enrolling na in Masters in Public Adm so maabutan ko pa si Dr. Leonor Briones, the country’s leading public finance expert.  I would love to be her student.

iii.  Where?  – UP of course.  or abroad.

iv.  How?  – Part-time basis so I could still earn for the family.  Probably by then, we’ll have a baby whose needs will eat up a sizeable chunk of the family budget.  If I study abroad, dapat:

1.  I get into a scholarship program – i need to have a published work in an international journal, and really good grades in my masters degree (to offset my mediocre ones in law school).  perhaps i also need to have teaching experience or a stint in government or in an organization such as ADB or BSP.  (hence, pwedeng MS Devt Econ then ADB then Scholarship abroad so I could pursue an LLM in law and econ or trade law)

2.  I get to bring Mike and our kid(s?)

3.  Mike would have something to do there (well, this part is up to him…which is another story)

4.  Learn French or Spanish as a third language (if I’ll study in Europe)

In line with these thoughts, here are some interesting URLs that I’ve been taking a look at:

1.  MS Devt Econ

2.  Masters in Public Adm

3.  PhD in Public Adm

4. Qualifications for the WB Legal Associates program

5.  Erasmus Mundus LLM

6.  Mile Program of the WTO

In the alternative, there’s another route.  Still doing policy work but within a more limited sphere.  I could take an Executive MBA (although I’m a business grad, I’d still need the degree, it would sound impressive) and become VP-Legal of a big corporation, which makes an impact in the lives of many people.  (That way, providing for the family probably won’t be an issue anymore – probably my current salary would just be 10% of what I’ll be getting if I get to accomplish this).

So, which path should I take?  Or is there yet still another path that I ought to traverse?  What is my true purpose?  Which path would lead me closer to it?

The answers do not lie with me, but with my Maker.  For now, masarap lang din isipin ang possibilities.

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