How I Ended Up In Graduate School

It would be a lie if I said that I decided not to go to graduate school straight out of undergrad because I wasn’t completely sure why I wanted another degree. The truth is, I applied into a program during my senior year and was kindly rejected. At the time, this caused me to feel inadequate and question a lot of the decisions that I had made up to that point as I did not have a job lined up after graduation.

In hindsight, getting rejected is probably one of the best things that has happened to my career (of course I would say this now, right?)  In all honesty, I had no idea why it was that I wanted to go to graduate school then, and I’m sure the admissions committee could tell from my vague application statements. Having been in school for the majority of my life, it was all I knew and I was not ready to let it go; I did not want to enter the “real world” because I did not know what I wanted to “do” in life.

After accepting my reality, I had to  hustle to find a job fast, and you can read more here about how I reached out to my network and managed to secure a position in less than a month. Although working as an executive assistant at a small firm wasn’t what I imagined I would be doing after getting a degree, I picked up a lot of useful knowledge and experience. I then went on to work on a political campaign as a field organizer and learned various methods on how to organize people around a particular cause. Afterwards, I landed at the company where I am now, managing the marketing and assisting with business development efforts.

Throughout this entire time I have had graduate school in the back of my mind, but I actually became confused as to what it was that I wanted to go back to school for. One day I would convince myself that law school was the answer. Two weeks later I would change my mind after looking into International MBA programs. I even got to the point where I wasn’t even sure if it was something that I needed to consider anymore. As proof, here’s the post that I wrote in 2014 sharing how I felt about going back to school. I had only been out of college for a little over a year when I wrote it, and you can tell from the tone in my writing that I was still rushing for no reason.

It took a lot of back and forth on my part before I finally made the decision to apply into another program – and I’m glad that it did. I tend to overthink things, but I believe this is one of those decisions that requires full commitment. Spending $50k-$150k in a law or graduate program shouldn’t be taken lightly, and I’m glad that I worked for a couple of years first so that I could experience what it feels like to make student loan payments before I took on even more debt. Getting a break from school exposed me to other possibilities and learn about industries that I had never even considered before.

I decided that I wanted to go back to school because I believe that it will be an investment in myself. This is very different from the mindset that I had before, which was wanting to go back to school for the sole purpose of finding a good paying job afterwards. I’ve come to the realization that I truly enjoy working in marketing, which is why I want to learn more about it. Do I have to go back to school to gain this knowledge? Probably not. But I’m not as self-disciplined as I’d like to be when it comes to work that’s not mandatory outside of my job (I’m getting there!) Plus, my favorite part about being in a classroom is bouncing ideas off of others and building a network with my classmates. Additionally, I can’t ignore the prestige that a graduate degree elicits within the business sector.

This summer, I will be starting on a One-year MBA at the University of South Carolina. I’m really looking forward to the program because I think that the marketing concentration is going to enhance my career with my current job. In addition, I know the skills that I’m going to be picking up will be of benefit to me no matter where I end up or if I choose to start my own business one day. I don’t know if I would have this much clarity if things had happened any other way, but I’m glad that I waited to commit myself to a program until I knew for a fact that it was what I wanted for myself.

My advice to others who may be in a similar situation like the one I was in is to FIRST figure out what it is that you want to do with your career, and THEN decide if you even need a degree to accomplish it. I don’t want to sound like I’m saying that this is the only way, as I am speaking from my personal experiences only, but I really think that you must be completely honest with yourself before deciding to “invest” in graduate school. The last thing that you want is to owe a lot of money for a degree that you are not happy with or that you did not enjoy pursuing.

Let me know below what your thoughts are on this post. As always, thank you for reading and please share if you think it will be of help to others in your circle.

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