20 Something Career Expert’s Tip of the Month – October

Applying to Graduate School? Stop and Think.

By: Alexandra Levit

This week in METRO:

Here’s a story I hear all the time. A recent grad laments her difficult job search. Apparently, when HR reps see the MBA on her resume, they put her in the pile of those seeking a management position. Unfortunately, because this grad’s prior positions were administrative and customer-service oriented, hiring managers don’t think she has the practical experience to qualify for such a position.

There are lots of graduate school alumni in similar situations. After spending a huge chunk of change on an advanced degree, they find that they are no more marketable in their chosen field than they were before they started school. The only difference now is that their job search is more urgent because they are deeply in debt.

To me, this phenomenon speaks to the danger of going back to school without a great deal of advance consideration. So many people make this decision because the economy is bad and they’re scared to be on the job market right now. Others choose a graduate program because they aren’t sure where they want to go with their careers. In reality, though, all of these folks should first be doing a cost/benefit analysis to determine what such a program is going to bring them in terms of increased job prospects and financial compensation.

It also helps to do enough research to know that you actually like the field you’re going to school to pursue. I’ve talked to lots of people who earn a Ph.D., JD, or MBA only to end doing something else entirely.

Graduate school is not something you should do just for the heck of it. Rather, you should first determine in concrete terms why you need the advanced degree to move ahead in your career of choice, and then map out a plan for how you’ll use the training and degree to facilitate the level of success you’d like to achieve.

~ Alexandra Levit, 20 Something Career Expert, Campus Calm

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