Hi all! It’s been a while since our last post, we know – but we’ve been busy trying to find jobs and figure out whether not going back to school was really the right decision. I’ve heard a lot of “when the economy’s in a recession, people go back to school” – which is of course, true. But I’ve also heard that “unless you have real ‘on-the-job’ experience”, it won’t really help you in the long run.
Both points are obviously valid, but where’s the middle ground? If you’re expected to go back to school to get more qualified, how do you eventually get ‘real’ experience?
As application due dates approach, I still haven’t chosen a graduate program and time was running out. I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation! There were definitely graduate programs out there that would lead to financial stability but the problem was I instinctively felt like none of these were for me. There’s also the problem of feeling unqualified. I decided then that maybe I should put off applying, find a job instead, and work for a couple of years to save up for further schooling.
A few months after graduation, working a string of temporary jobs – I was suddenly questioning my decision not to apply. I already have extensive work experience so I was feeling confident that I could easily find full time work in a highly competitive job market. However, my confidence level slowly went downhill after fruitless interviews and rejections. I was starting to doubt my decision to stay out of school, wishing I could go back to the comforts of university life, where my schedule was set and a clear goal was in mind.
Feeling dejected, I consulted the online community to help me determine if I made the right decision, postponing graduate studies. I came up with the following questions to help put things in perspective
- Do I know which specific field I want to focus on or do I have a clear idea of the direction I am going to take after grad school?
- If I knew which area I would like to specialize in, is it unlikely that I could find a job in this field with just a Bachelor’s Degree?
- Do I have the financial means to go back to school or am I willing to take out student loans to fund my academic pursuits?
- Do I have an academic record that is competitive enough to increase my chances of getting into my desired post-graduate program?
- Would a graduate degree weigh heavily in hiring considerations and compensate for the lack of actual experience in my desired field of work?
- Am I willing to put my life on hold (i.e. live with my parents instead of renting an apartment/buying a house, earn less than my peers (at least for the time being), accumulate more loans instead of paying them off)?
After evaluating my answers to these questions, I realized that since I am still unclear on my career goals, I probably made the decision not to choose a graduate program right away. Plus, there’s also the fact that I actually can’t afford it without having to take out loans. After all, if I were to go to graduate school without having a clear career path, I am most likely going to be unemployed after graduation (no ‘real’ experience + lack of jobs) again with a greater financial burden and less time to really figure out that all elusive dream job.
The only problem now is landing my first full time job after graduating. However, I am trying to be optimistic…
Any of you have similar stories? How did you decide between more studies and work experience?