Skip to main content
4 answers
5
Asked 858 views

Should I stay in school and obtain my Master's Degree before entering the work force or get a job out of college and then go back once I have some experience?

I will be graduating with an Environmental Engineering Degree and wonder if it is better to finish my Master's or get a job and then go back to school. #masters-degree

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

5

4 answers


0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Cassie’s Answer

Hi Halli,

I spent about 10 years in the work force before going back for my Masters degree. I also worked full-time while completing my Masters degree. I think it depends on a few things:

1. Can you get a job in your desired career field without a Masters degree? Or will you be working just to get out of school for a bit outside your field? If you can get good experience within your field without a Masters, then I would recommend trying that out first before going back to school. Sometimes workplaces have scholarships or tuition reimbursement programs and will pay for or help pay for your Masters once you've dedicated time to the company.

2. Are you absolutely certain in your career path? Do you want to explore some different paths available to you or are you set in a particular path? If you're all-in for Environmental Engineering, maybe going straight into a Masters program will work for you. Otherwise, taking some time in the work force to explore some tangential options might help you decide what you really want to do.

3. Are you ready for more school? Though graduate programs are very different from undergraduate programs, we all need a break sometimes. You just spent the last 17ish years of your life in school! Do you want a break, or are you ready to get it all done?
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Austin’s Answer

Halli, good question...also a tough one. I just graduated college last year (wasn't an engineer but many of my friends were) and I wrestled with the same problem. There were many different paths I could have taken, but I personally decided to work first before I went back to school for a graduate degree. I personally chose to work first for a few reasons: 1) I wanted a break from school 2) I got offered a great job upon graduation 3) I want to get into the best graduate school possible and work experience will help with that.


The first two points that I mentioned were fairly personal to me so they may not apply to you, but I would like to elaborate on the third point which may help you in your decision. I have heard from many that work experience is notable to administrators when applying to graduate school. Think about all the people with great grades who are applying to graduate school every year, needless to say it is a lot. One way to demonstrate how fantastic, intelligent, and skilled you are is via work experience!! Work experience can show how you are different, how you're not just a "one trick pony", how hard working you are, the list goes on. So long as you are not in a rush to get to graduate school or anything , having work experience can only help.


P.S. All my engineering friends decided to work after undergrad and did not go straight into a graduate degree program

Thank you comment icon Thank you! That is extrmely helpful. So many decisions to be made over the next few years. Halli
Thank you comment icon Literally so so many decisions, I'm in the same place. Be confident in your decisions and don't second guess yourself, the path you choose will work out. Austin L.
Thank you comment icon Thanks Austin. I am leaning into going into the workforce. My Mom was fortunate enough to have her Master's paid for by her employer so that will be something I will be looking for once I start applying for jobs. Halli
Thank you comment icon Good idea to get your employer to pay for a masters, the company that I work for does it and it's pretty great. Also coming back to the job after your masters with a significant pay increase is pretty nice. Austin L.
Thank you comment icon Definitely a bonus! Halli
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Jimmy’s Answer

Hi Halli!

I realize you may have decided by now, but hopefully you and/or others can get some benefit from my response.

This is definitely a personal decision to make, but here's what I would recommend:
• Do you know the kind of job you want when you graduate with your bachelor's? If so, it may not be worth waiting to start your career. You can immediately start getting hands on industry experience and start getting paid. Like Austin mentioned in a previous response, if you want to go back for a master's later -- lot's of companies offer to help pay for that, if that's a route you want to take.

• Are you looking to get a Master's degree to continue your current path (in your case, environmental eng.), or did you want to earn a master's degree to add a new skillset to your resume? For example if you got a bachelor's in environmental engineering and then a master's in environmental engineering, are you getting a lot of new information that you can't learn in the field? However, if you are going for an MBA - you might be diversifying your career opportunities by being a "dual threat".

• Lastly, does your undergraduate program open enough doors for your interview process? If you are considering a master's degree from a more recognized name school -- it might be a way to boost your starting salary out of school, or at least the number of interviews you are able to land. This was the case for me. My undergraduate program was in ECE (electrical and computer engineering) from a good college. I had a job offer in hand coming out of school, but I was also accepted into Carnegie Mellon's ECE program. I decided to go for the master's first. After this program, my first job offer was 1.5x the offer I had coming out of undergrad. So, for me, this was the right decision.

If you're thinking about going into industry right out of undergrad or sticking in academia, just try and figure out what benefit you'll add with more schooling. Keeping in mind more school often means more debt. A pro/con list is a simple way to start your decision making process.

Best of luck!
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Jodi’s Answer

I am a big advocate of getting some experience in your field before continuing with your Master's degree. A couple of reasons:
1. You will get hands on experience in your direct field and can confirm that degree is truly what you want to pursue.
2. You have day to day experiences that should tie directly with the subjects you are studying.
3. Potential for your company to help cover or sponsor the cost of your degree.

For me, I started in the workforce directly after completing my Bachelors degree in Business. I worked for a year to truly understand what I wanted to pursue for a Master's degree. My Master's degree seemed much easier to me than my Bachelors for the simple fact that I was able to easily correlate the work I was doing everyday in my job directly to my Masters program in Supply Chain Management.
0