Seriously? It’s July…
So you made it to the end of your undergraduate journey and your Public Relations/English/Communications is mere moments from being transferred.
You’re probably thinking, “What next?”
You know first hand that you gotta have experience to get a job and get more experience, so the job search odds are not in your favor quite yet.
And maybe your parents are pressuring you. Maybe you’re looking at your friends that have decided to further their education and go to graduate/professional school straight away. But, you’re most likely stressing yourself about the future and how to get ahead. You are deeply considering a grad program to aide in The Takeover (No Hov) of the Media World.
So I’m here to give you my advice, even though you never asked for it.
There’s a ton of things to take into account with going back to graduate school:
The most important thing in climbing the career ladder is WORK PLACE EXPERIENCE, especially in these lean economic times. Employers want to know that you are able to do the job for which you were hired as efficiently as possible. Grad school is not the cure for this problem.
Look at it this way, If Company A is hiring for a Communications Specialist position and Candidate X has been working at Company B as a Communications Specialist for two years and Candidate Z has her MA in Communications with no experience, who will get hired? Here’s a hint, there’s a 90% chance Candidate X will get hired at Company A. Actually, that wasn’t a hint at all. That was the answer. But, Anywho…
Most grad school programs are focused on theory and research, in order for students to ascend to the next academic step, the PhD. Therefore, most programs are less focused on providing practical skills for the work world.
And lastly: Money, money, money. (Also, time is money.) School isn’t free. It costs a lot of money and you will most likely go into debt to acquire a higher degree that may or may not help you achieve your higher goals. And you will be signing away a significant portion of your life to acquire this degree.
The reasons listed above make it seem like I’m vehemently opposed to getting a Masters degree. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I highly value education of any sort.
“Who Run The World?” Masters Graduates??
Here’s my suggestion for a grad school plan of action for my Comm/PR peeps:
- Get your undergrad degree. (Lemme raise a hand for my college grads!)
- Work, in any way that you can, in your profession of choice, in this case, communications and/or PR. I know it’s easier said than done. Take internships and part-time jobs. Be focused on acquiring skills. The skills WILL help you down the line.
- NOW, while working, be cognizant that life is an on-going learning process. So, continue reading about your profession, attending networking events and scheduling informational interviews with people in your field.
- ALSO, start researching grad schools. You don’t want to go to just any school, but one that is best for you.
- Continue this process for 2-5 years. Longer, if you can stand it.
- Apply to grad school. Get a ton of acceptances because you have experience and passion that is demonstrated through your gap years.
- Go to grad school AND KEEP WORKING. Don’t think for a second that grad school should be a respite from the cold, hard world of working. A degree should ADD to your work experience. Not be a reason to completely abandon work experience. Refer to the example above for clarity.
- Keep meeting as many people as possible (students, professors, people in the industry) to add to your network. An overlooked aspect of grad school is that there are so many people in your chosen industry to build the ever-important relationship with sitting next to you in class!
- Graduate and have employers falling all over you and throwing you jobs. (Results not guaranteed!)
These article are quite helpful on the grad school debate:
Grad School Vs. Real Life Experience – Brazen Careerist
Why Going Back to Grad School is a Bad Idea – Brazen Life
Pick A Grad School For the Right Reasons – Culpwrit
The Grad School Option – Culpwrit
In short, grad school degree + work experience = a truly standout communications professional. Don’t skimp on either factor.