Saturday, March 08, 2008

Should I get a Masters or a job?

You're bound to have come across this elusive question upon Graduating from college that whether you should continue your studies by joining a Masters program immediately or should you instead find some work. The answer to this question is subjective, in my opinion. MS Jobs Blog recently posted an entry on the same topic here, and I've decided to pen my thoughts on it too.

Like I said in the comments section of that post, the ultimate decision rests with the individual depending on their long-term goals. Like their post suggests, there are no RIGHT or WRONG decisions here; both courses of action can yield good results, again, depending on what path a fresh graduate wants to follow in their career. Readers of this blog would remember a post I did some time entitled 'Choosing a career path' in which I expressed my bewilderment at the apparent lack of consideration given to a person's interest when choosing a field of study for their career, and instead going after a field that will simply "pay well" in the short-term. I fully understand why *some* people might adopt this approach, due to their family's economic conditions et al, but certainly not ALL of them, as we do end up witnessing sadly.

Back to the point in question, I don't think there's any doubt that a person should try and attain a specialization in their field as it becomes necessary at some point in their careers for their own growth. As for the WHEN part, I've seen a lot of people enroll in Evening Masters' programs that they choose to manage alongside their day jobs. Hectic I know, but a lot of people are going for this option nowadays, which isn't bad IMO, and it's certainly better than enrolling in a full-time Masters program straight-away if you ask me. Lets just say I think it is better to have worked professionally for some time before you decide to pursue your Masters. Working has its own benefits; you develop your skill set, learn new technologies, learn the way things work in the REAL WORLD in your field, make good contacts and what not. All these things can prove to be invaluable and can possibly give a new direction in terms of what you want to specialize in. All in all, I think it is definitely better to acquire some set of professional skills and experience before pursuing a specialization, as it undoubtedly adds a new dimension to the person that is YOU and possibly gives you a fresh perspective about your field that you may want to follow-up on later when you do enroll in your Masters.

On the other hand, some people choose to enroll in a Masters right after their graduation. Again, not a bad choice since they have just graduated and are used to the ways of the academic world. They certainly wouldn't have to spend any time getting used to a studying schedule, attending classes no end , meeting assignment-deadlines and all that else that is part of academics. If someone feels strongly about their field and the specialization they want to acquire, this may end up being a better choice. This is especially true for those individuals that plan on staying in the academic world as teachers, or possibly want to pursue research at some institution. But, you would find that many schools do not admit students in their Masters program without prior work experience. Besides, who would you choose to admit in your school if on one hand you had a fledgling young fellow with a 4.0CGPA straight out of school and on the other, a relatively mature person having considerable experience in their field and with good recommendations from his co-workers and teachers? Obviously, the latter!

Lastly, this is just my take on this. I am just another person who's asked himself this question before, and am penning down what I believe is the answer - at least for me it is. I would love to hear what others think of this; for and against both.


Trekker said...

Get a job; work on an MS along the way -- part-time if possible.

M Shoaib Sheikh said...

agree with the same idea

Anonymous said...

Learning is an Art that can be kept on practising through out ones life. A job is a handful of experience too, both can go hand in hand or vice verse, it depends how u want to attain ur goal eventually, noone can be a millionaire overnight( otherwise u have won a lottery worth a million :P) bt the point is both education and job these days provide stablilty and confidence to a being, as in today's rash world u need to be well aware of what u are, and where ur standing and heading ofcourse.

Cling & Clatter said...

I decided to work for a while and then opt for graduate school...going or a Masters right after undergrad is not an option I am in favor of. I think one should get some experience in the workplace before getting another degree. But then of course there is the discomforting feeling of finishing college, finding a job, rounding up grad school and again jumping back in to the job market. i think t is worth the trouble.

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