Question: Hi, I just graduated and have an offer to go to graduate school and get a Masters with all expenses paid and I also have a job offer. Should I go to grad school now and finish my M.Sc. or should I get a job and some work experience first?
Steve B., Chicago, IL
The answer depends on several factors including your financial situation (job will hopefully pay better…), your personal situation, your long term career goals and the opportunities you perceive you will get with the Master’s degree in hand.
In general I would say that if you are set on a Master’s degree and you have an offer in hand that is not contingent you should go for it and take the opportunity now. A master’s will enrich you professionally and allow you to gain experience and knowledge in more advanced engineering, in a field of your choice, without employer constraints. Doing it early will also be easier at a time when you are less likely to be constrained by family or financial needs which may come later. Completing your M.Sc. will also improve your resume significantly. An engineering resume and cover letter for young engineers entering the market place will look more attractive if you have an advanced degree (which is becoming more common place with your competition for the same job).
The reverse side of this argument is that if you are tired of school and ready for employment you can always take a couple of years off and join the work force. Also, if you are in a financial situation that forces you into a paying job then deferring graduate school makes total sense. In some cases you may be able to find an employer that is willing to commit to tuition reimbursement and will pay for your studies. Note of course that such an arrangement will most likely require you to work and study which is draining and the employer will have a say in what you study and where which may be a drawback. The program will take longer and you will not have the same availability to study. But you will have a steady pay check of course.
So in summary if you are not sure if more school is the right path at this time, the job offer looks too good to pass or you feel a great wish to jump into the work force then take the job. If however you really want to get the degree and don’t want to take the chances that the employer may not sponsor you then take the offer and get your school out of the way first. You have nothing to lose except the income.
In the end it will be a personal decision based on what matters the most to you now, but remember that if you pass on a grad school offer now you will be trading it for a possibility of a future opportunity.
Seems that you can’t go wrong! Good luck to you.
If you have any questions about this or any other topics please feel free to contact me directly.
Good luck with your search!