13 answers

After undergrad, is it beneficial/worth it to work in my field for a year or so before applying to graduate school?

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13 answers

Hannah’s Answer

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Hi Olivia,

To build off of Cheryl's answer, a lot of it depends on your undergrad degree and the graduate degree you wish to pursue, as well as the career outcome you are aiming for. Do you want some time in a job doing research and honing the skills you developed in undergrad? If you're still focusing your interests on a specific area in your field, getting some work experience before devoting time (and likely money) to an advanced degree is a great way of making sure you're getting that degree because it's what YOU want to do!

And some of those potential employers might offer tuition assistance, depending on where you work, so keep that in mind as well! When browsing for jobs or talking to company recruiters, tuition assistance is usually something that employers list as an employee benefit, so don't be afraid to ask!

Finally, you could also talk to some faculty at grad schools you are interested in applying to, and getting their feedback about how many of their students stepped out of undergrad straight into their graduate programs, or if many of their students found it beneficial to take some time away from school and live as part of the workforce. Burnout is real and sometimes a break from the always-on student mentality is a pleasant refresher before starting the process again!
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Cheryl’s Answer

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If you feel comfortable with waiting to go into the working world, that is a great idea. Depending on what your degree is in, you could also take online courses to complete a graduate degree, while working in your chosen field. I hope this answer is helpful to you, best of luck.
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Dr. Delma’s Answer

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I believe it is a personal preference. If your undergrad is similar or on the same track, you may want to continue and get it over with.
On the other hand, if you do want some work experience, you may want to take a gap year in between, however, during that gap year, I do suggest as Cheryl stated probably taking online classes part-time. If that is something you like doing because online learning and a full-time workload can still be overwhelming for some.
What makes taking that gap year and working a good choice, depends heavily on your career, once you have completed grad school and now ready to permanently enter the workforce you have some experience, which put you ahead of your fellow classmates with no experience in their field.
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Jorge’s Answer

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Olivia,

The answer to this is very specific to the individual. I will tell you that there are many who prefer to complete their studies as soon as possible.
Once they finish their undergrad they go directly into their masters program. In some fields like medicine and law it certainly makes more sense if your end goal is to become a Doctor or Attorney.

I will tell you that on a personal level I took the opposite road and found it very beneficial on multiple fronts. Prior to starting my MBA program I worked for numerous years in the industry I wanted to have a career in. This helped me establish knowledge in the space and gain business acumen. Interesting enough, once I started the Masters program many of the topics we were discussing made so much more sense. In addition there are financial benefits to going this route. If you are fortunate you will land in a company that offers tuition reimbursement and will cover part or most of the cost associated with your advanced degree and if not at least you will have time to accumulate some savings to pay for it yourself.

I hope you find this helpful, as mentioned already a very personal decision however I certainly would recommend you pursue the advanced degree as it will absolutely be a difference make as you progress through your career.

Regards
Jorge
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Crystal’s Answer

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Hi, Olivia!

First off, definitely do whatever feels best to you.

One option could be getting an internship that is part-time and requires you to be a current student in order to qualify for even applying for the internship. That's what I ended up doing. After undergrad, I was fortunate enough to get selected for a student internship in my field that required me to be in school and finish my next degree. It was fantastic. I got a feel for what it would be like to work in my dream agency while also furthering my education. It helped me get a full-time job after I finished my master's degree.

I'll be honest with you though and let you know it definitely added stress into my life. But it was worth it for me. There are pros and cons for both of the options you presented, so it's good that you are on here weighing those out and figuring out what's best for you mentally, emotionally, and physically. Best of luck and hold onto your passion every step of the way!

Best,

Crystal
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Caitlin’s Answer

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Great question Olivia! I personally found working in industry before pursuing my Master's Degree was helpful. I think if I would have gone to graduate school right away I would have selected a different degree and program. Working in industry helped me refined my interested and led me to pursuing an MS instead of an MBA. I am very glad I ended up getting my MS. If you have uncertainty about the field you want to work in or they type of graduate degree you want to get I would recommend taking the time to work in industry first.
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Dante’s Answer

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Yes. Most graduate programs will require you to do so, even if it is a volunteering experience in relations to the major you are pursuing.
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Emilie’s Answer

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That depends on the industry, and how sure you are of what you want to do. If you are unsure in general of what you want to do post college, it could be a great idea to take a gap year. If you are looking at business graduate school, it would almost be beneficial to take a gap year and broaden your network, plus get experience in the working world before diving right in. Personally, being in sales, it is definitely better to take a year off in between. But, if you are 100% sure you want to be in the medical field or a lawyer, then taking a gap year would not bring as much value.
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Gina’s Answer

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I think this differs from person to person--- I was accepted to graduate school for broadcast journalism right tout of college. I had the acceptance deferred because I wanted to try to get into my field, work a little and then go back. Well, I never went back I was wrapped up in my new career path and on my way. I don't necessarily regret it... but if your heart is in it, I think taking a break and going back is difficult once you're out in the real world.
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Jessica’s Answer

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Hi Olivia,

Going along with what others have said, it really up to you and that is an individual's decision to make.

From my personal experience, I graduated undergrad about 2 years ago, and worked after graduation and have continued on that path. I was lucky to have had the opportunity during my undergrad to connect with graduate students at my university, who gave me their insight and experiences with graduate school. I can't speak for you or for anyone else, but of all the graduate students I connected with during my undergrad, every single one of them who went straight into graduate school said that they wished they would have worked for at least a year before going back to school. I personally believe that it's best to work for a year (ideally in your field and the field you want to continue pursuing in school) to make sure that's what you want and you understand what your industry is like. I wouldn't recommend going to straight into another degree unless you are absolutely 100% sure that you want (maybe even need) that next degree.

The best advice I have is to really think about what you want and connect with people who are pursuing the degree you want/have obtained that degree to ask them about their experience. Whether you decide to go to school straight after graduating or decide to take a year or two to work first is up to you, but make sure you are well informed of whichever choice you decide to make.

I hope this is helpful!

Jessica

Jessica recommends the following next steps:

  • Reach out to alums from your school who are working in your industry and/or are pursuing graduate school
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Dee’s Answer

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It definitely can be beneficial working in the field of interest before going on for a graudate degree. You may find that you don't want to pursue anymore schooling once you start working. You may also find that the company you choose to work for will pay for your schooling to get your graduate degree. The key is to research the company you decide to apply with to make sure it's a good fit for you and them.
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Glen’s Answer

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Some great advice given here. Key points are

1. Financial - tuition reimbursement and taking a break from school may be right for you. All this is dependent on your situation.
2. Undergrad - some jobs really require you to have both and undergrad and graduate level job.
3. Experience - sometimes working for a bit before your graduate work is really helpful to gain experience to make the most out of your graduate studies later on.
4. Lifestyle - you may want to consider getting it done while you are young. I personally did it a couple of years after undergrad one to get tuition reimbursement and the other was to do it before I got married and started a family. Finding the time can be hard but it doesn't get any easier. It is all dependent on you!!

Good luck!!
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Tabitha’s Answer

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It's definitely a personal preference and also depends on your career goals. If I had to do it all over again, I would go straight through without stopping to work. It has taken me forever to get back to school because life obligations sometimes get in the way. It often feels like a monkey on my back and I'm so glad to be back on track.
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