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Career Coaching by Former Fortune 500 Recruiters

Go to Grad School or Not Go to Grad School … That is the Question

I coach a lot of summer interns and recent grads on how to find a job and so many of them want to just opt out of their job search completely by going to grad school.  Some can afford to do so and others cannot.  Here is what I all of them, regardless of their resources:

1. Unless you know exactly what you want out of grad school, do not go.   You don’t grow as an individual or as a professional without having work experiences that give you clear indications of what you like and do not like.  For example, if you work in business doing mostly grunt work, perhaps you’ve always gravitated towards marketing.  In fact, in several of your past responsibilities, your comments and ideas were well noted and/or incorporated into a magazine cover design, or a graphic for a news program.  If you weren’t doing the grunt work, perhaps you wouldn’t have been given the opportunity to make a comment/suggestion and you would have never known that you love marketing.

2. Degrees follow you wherever you go.  So having a graduate degree in marketing, when marketing turns out not to be of interest, seems more than silly.  More importantly, a recruiter will not see a logical flow to your activities and interests….red flag!  Even if you don’t want to report the degree, you will have to explain why there was such a time gap in your resume…another red flag!  Be focused, targeted and tenacious and it will help you land somewhere.

3. If you are a recent grad, or a summer intern, you are mostly likely from Generation Y.  Harness the strength of your generation and get through this tough time.  Your strengths include: a) teamwork – get a group of job seekers together every Tuesday for coffee and help each other, b) technology – social media sites are landing so many jobs these days, c) networking – half of the jobs aren’t even posted, so build your network and keep it going until you land something.

For some, grad school is absolutely the right choice.  But you have to have a clear WHY if you are going to expend the time, energy and resources necessary to attend and succeed.  Don’t “go the easy route” and think that you can just sail through this tough job climate.  That which doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger!


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