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Once you are done with undergrad, Is it better to do an entry level job or get into a graduate school right away, if your aim is to do executive level jobs?

I am an undergrad student of economic. #student #jobs #school # #high-school-students #internships #college-student #technology #student-development #professional #JULY20

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Dean’s Answer

There is really no right or wrong answer to this question, as everyone’s situation is different. The journey to executive level positions can vary widely and goes well beyond the formal education path you choose. The most important thing you need to focus on is to always be a “learner” and not a “knower”.

Entering your career with an advanced degree can put you on an accelerated path to senior leadership - but it certainly does not guarantee anything in the future. Once you start your career with a company, while your education will help you, your performance will be based on the value you bring to the company and your team. As a new member of the company, you will likely join a team that includes experts that have worked in the industry for tens of years, and have learned how to provide value to the company and their customers. While these experts will respect your education, they will expect that you know very little about how to help the company be successful. That’s OK - this perception actually creates an opportunity for you to demonstrate your willingness and ability to learn. Showing that you are willing to learn and work towards team objectives will earn you respect and lead to new opportunities.

As you grow at your company, senior leaders will evaluate your ability to lead others and not necessarily on what you “know” when assessing your potential for a future senior leadership role. Your education and experience will provide you a foundation, but won’t be enough to advance to a senior leadership position. You will need to lead others and help your teams accomplish things that go beyond expectations to be considered for an executive level position.

While grad school is a path that can work for many, I personally prefer a mix of work experience and education. I am a big advocate of internships while pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. This will give you a jump start on what it’s like to be in a work environment, and an opportunity to leverage what you are learning in school. It also helps your resume, lets you make a little money, and most importantly, helps you decide what you do or do not want to do in your career.

Education never stops if you are a “learner” - so while an internship may extend the time it takes to get a degree, that extra time is just a snapshot in time in comparison to the length of your career. So, if you make the choice that is right for you and commit yourself to lifelong learning, that is the best thing you can do.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! it was very helpful! Faheem
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Dilasha’s Answer

Hi Faheem,

There is not really a right or wrong answer to this.

However, in my opinion, it is beneficial to go for an entry-level position after undergrad. You will get a lot of experience and learn a lot about what you may want to do in the future. This can also help you decide what type of graduate degree you want to obtain. Many companies also help pay with further education so many folks I know are part-time students.

An opportunity that can help take you into the executive path is the type of entry-level positions you apply to. Many companies have jobs that are considered development programs for recently graduated students (e.g. Leadership Development Programs, Technology Analyst Program, etc.). These are usually rotational programs where you can gain experience in different areas of the business and network with many people in the business. Once you finish the program, you will be able to apply to the department you enjoyed the most or be placed into it. Then climbing up the ladder from there depends on how you well you perform, lead, and how visible you are.
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much! really appreciate it! Faheem
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Jose’s Answer

I would do both, as you will find a lot of benefits along the way. For example, you could be asked to do a project from school where a given task at work will help you complete that project. At the same time, what you learn in school can quickly be put into practice on a real life work scenario.

In short your real work tasks/activities will support your school work and what you learn from school can be place into practice. Is a win-win!
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Chad’s Answer

Great question Faheem! I can share my experience with you. I did my undergrad in accounting and wanted to get a Masters in Accounting (MAcc) so that I'd have enough education hours to get a Certified Public Accounting (CPA) license. I wouldn't be able to move up to manager at the company I was going to without a CPA license. My school also said that if I went directly into my MAcc after my undergrad they would wave the GMAT requirement and allow me to get the degree in one year rather than two. For all these reasons it was best for me to stay in school and get the degree right after my undergrad.

After 4 years of working in accounting, I was looking for a career pivot. I took the GMAT and went back to school for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA). The work experience I had before going back to school really helped me in knowing what I wanted out of school. The first time I was in school my goal was just to learn. When I went back to school my goal was to immediately apply what I learned. Having 4 years of work experience before going back really helped me do that.

I hope this helps!
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Tina L’s Answer

This is very good question but I think you'll find a wide array of responses.

In the short term, I think an advanced degree is always good leverage and a good lesson. It takes great discipline and consistency to finish your post graduate studies and those are just a few life skills will translate into great leadership skills. Having said that, on the job experience and relationship building are sometimes more important in helping a leader ascend to executive levels so you can never discount the benefit of starting a career early (even if you decide to return to finish your graduate degree after having worked for some time and while still employed with an established company)

Whatever you decide, I leave you with this.. as you enter the workforce, always bring your best self, without excuses are compliant; lead by example (selflessly and honestly) and support those around you. Sometimes, the best way to grow into what you WANT to become, is to exhibit that behavior as if you already there.
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Scott’s Answer

Faheem ,
Like others have said, it really depends on what the job is and if it requires an advanced degree. Real world experience can be invaluable and is something you should not discount in your assessment. In many companies you have to work your way up, and once in the door, your work output, work relationships, and proven skillset often overshadow your college history. From a financial standpoint, there is also a balance to the added income an advanced degree may initially earn you vs the lost earning years. On top of that, many larger companies will also help cover some school costs if you decide to pursue an advanced degree while an employee.
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David’s Answer

I've always believed that there is no one path to get to where you want to be. Someone's route to the position you want to be may not be the same path that's available to you or suitable for you. It does not mean you can't get there -- it just means that you have to be open-minded to whatever opportunities that may be presented to you.

I graduated undergrad, had an entry level job, worked for quite a few years, and then went to business school. I think if I had gone straight to business school after undergrad, I would not have had the same perspective or appreciation for what grad school offers. I received my MBA in a part-time program (evenings and weekends). I still finished in 2.5 years (vs typical 2 years for MBA) so I busted my butt to work full time 40-50 hours, commute 3-4 hours, and go to school 6-12 hours a week.

But experiencing work life at that entry level lit the fire in me. And I knew first-hand that I needed that MBA to open doors, and knew I had to seize that rare opportunity to open new doors to new fields. Network opportunities are ubiquitous and sometimes overlooked when you're immersed in school settings without any other perspective. Having that gap between undergrad and grad can be a good way to recharge your batteries and really excel at that level -- and hopefully putting you on a good path towards that end goal that you have.

Good luck!
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Becky’s Answer

This is a great question and one that has no right or wrong answer. What I can offer is a perspective from personal experience. While education is critical, experiences and the ability to learn and adapt are as equally important. Many attest that experience and the ability to continually learn and adapt are critical as we move into the future. It is often not the classroom or theoretical experiences that matter, but the experiences we gain from actually learning on the job. Advice I have given to my own family is to get some experience first. You just may learn that what you thought was your passion or critical to your success is not as critical in the world outside of academics.
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Jesse’s Answer

It depends on what graduate program you're interested in. For law/medical it may make sense to go straight through since the programs are long and work experience won't really help you in the program. However, for business, work experience is a big plus. I did my MBA and had 5 years experience prior and I was on the inexperienced side. Since Business is a softer discipline without clear guidelines, it's useful to have past experiences to pull from to help make decisions, or discussions in a classroom.

I also believe that work experience helps you understand what you like/don't like so you can pick the right graduate program. I know plenty of people who went straight to grad school from college and then had a change of heart and are in careers where they didn't need the grad degree. Would be better/more affordable to really know what you want so you can get it opposed to guessing.
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Ashwin Karthik’s Answer

In the ever-dynamic world of software or any field, it is very important to know one's interest. Work experience provides you with the opportunity to understand our real calling. Then we can dig deep in the area of our interests for more learning. Hence go for higher education after a brief period of working.
Thank you comment icon Thank you! Faheem
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Akshar’s Answer

Hello Faheem,

There is never a 'right' way for the path that you wish to take. While immediately signing up to a graduate school can be an enriching experience, taking up an entry level job has its own perks as well.
A lot of students graduating every year might not be sure about the field they want to pursue their masters in. Internships comes into picture in this case. Internships or even entry level jobs allows you to understand towards what the industry is currently oriented towards. It helps you make an informed decision. Furthermore, taking up an entry level job allows you to meet people from whom you will have a lot to learn. Coming out of college, this will be a huge learning.
In cases where people are really passionate about the field where they had been working throughout college and something that they are sure to pursue in the future, taking up grad school makes sense as well.
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Mike’s Answer

H Faheem

This is a good question and one that I have personal experience. I had to make this choice after getting my undergrad degree. I choose to pursue my first job. I think looking back it was the right choice. I worked for 2-3 years before deciding to pursue my graduate degree. I learned more in those 2-3 years of real world experience that I did in 4 years as a undergrad. I think there were a couple of other benefits as well. First, I was actually ready for a break from formal education. It had dominated my life for over 16 years. Secondly, by the time I was ready to get back into pursuing my formal education, I was in a better frame of mind to learn and the practical experience I received by working made the learning much more interesting.

Obviously, this is a personal decision and there is not a wrong answer. Hope this helps.

Mike

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Becky’s Answer

This is a great question and one that has no right or wrong answer. What I can offer is a perspective from personal experience. While education is critical, experiences and the ability to learn and adapt are as equally important. Many attest that experience and the ability to continually learn and adapt are critical as we move into the future. It is often not the classroom or theoretical experiences that matter, but the experiences we gain from actually learning on the job. Advice I have given to my own family is to get some experience first. You just may learn that what you thought was your passion or critical to your success is not as critical in the world outside of academics.
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Christian’s Answer

Hello Faheem,

That is a great question that I asked myself many times when I was in your position. Looking back, I would say that I prefer to get some sort of work experience for two reasons: It allows you to discover more about the professional environment and whether this is a path you indeed want to dedicate your life to, and second, it gives you real life experience as you go into graduate school. Many universities look for professional experience and they can make your application stronger, especially if you are able to use some references. Additionally, if you're lucky, you could get into a company that helps pay for some of your degree.

I hope this helps.

Christian
Thank you comment icon I agree with Christian. After undergrad some work experience is useful - perhaps, a year or two and pursue a MBA degree. Will provide a lot more context for the material and your real world background will help you and others in the class. Ajay Seetharam
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Krasti’s Answer

Hi Faheem,
Similar to the prior responses, everyone's situation is different and there is no definite right answer. So I can only speak for my experience. Personally, I think it is more beneficial to get an entry level position first and then go to graduate school. The reason because you can really start gaining some hands on work experience. That way, when you attend graduate school, you can apply your job/work to the concepts you are learning at school. By linking these two environments together, you can understand better. At least that was how I felt when I was trying to get my certification and had to return to "textbook learning". Having the real life work experience allowed me to relate to my job and no longer became a matter of "memorizing concepts" but understanding why they exist. There are also several other opportunities to learn while you're working. For instance, some people do part time graduate school while they're working, as well, others go to MBA executive programs, etc. Some companies have incentive programs where they pay for part of your education if you decide to go that route. You can do some research and ask companies how they help further education for their employees.
Thank you comment icon Thank you Krasti! Faheem
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Majorie’s Answer

Hello Faheem,

To answer your question I would say it usually depends on your lifestyle and economic situation. While having some job experience can boost your resume and educational knowledge it could also push your education to a further time making it difficult to start again.
If you can afford to continue your education immediately after graduating , I suggest you do that and some part time jobs or internships will appear along the way to help your experience, and consequently getting a good job after graduating.
Thank you comment icon Thanks a lot! Faheem
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