Graduate School vs. Full-Time Career

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Many individuals who are finishing up their undergraduate degrees are faced with the dilemma of choosing between pursuing higher education or jumping into the real world and landing a full-time job.  There are certainly pros and cons to each path, but ultimately it comes down to the individual.  If you are facing this conundrum, here are some things you may want to consider:

Graduate School

Pros

Many people in favor of going to graduate school straight out of college argue that this creates a much smoother transition.  You are still in “school mode”, having spent the last 17 or so years of your life in the classroom, and you don’t have as many commitments in the real world that are holding you back.  Because you are fresh out of college, you don’t have a job that will be difficult to leave, and you likely don’t have a family of your own to think about when potentially moving across the country.  In short, you still have the flexibility that makes focusing on graduate school much easier.

People in favor of graduate school after college also argue that in this sort of economy, delaying the job search may be a good idea.  You don’t have to enter the fray quite yet, and in addition to waiting out an iffy job market, you are adding more credibility to your name by earning additional degrees and accolades.

Cons

The downside of entering graduate school is that if the institution you are attending does not sponsor your degree, you are getting yourself into further debt without the guarantee of a job immediately after graduation.  You may also lack the real world experience to determine what exactly you want to pursue, and whether or not your choice of study will be useful in the real world.

Full-Time Career

Pros

One of the biggest pros for waiting a few years before going back to school is that the real world experience you bring with you enriches your academic experience.  You have a better perspective on the practical use of your degree and know more thoroughly what you want to get out of it.  Waiting a few years before returning to your studies may also ensure that you end up pursuing an area that you’re actually interested in, instead of jumping into something right away just for the sake of staying in school.

Another plus to having some real world experience under your belt is that, upon graduation, you are more likely to land a great job. Companies often prefer real world experience in addition to a degree, as opposed to someone who has the same degree but no idea of what it’s like to be in a real working environment.  Also, there is the added benefit of already having the proper connections from your previous job to help get you back on your feet and working again, which you wouldn’t have had if you went straight into grad school.

Cons

The downside to putting off graduate school is that it may be difficult to get back into it.  You may find that you love your job and it’s difficult to leave.  You may have a family, in which case it could be hard to relocate to a place that otherwise would have been an ideal fit for you.  Or you may feel too distanced from academia itself to feel entirely comfortable heading back.

There are certainly drawbacks to each side of the debate, but people pursue both paths successfully all the time.  What it really comes down to is weighing all the pros and cons and deciding what is right for YOU.

All the best,

The Doostang Team

Superhero Still Searching: Innovative Tips on How to Improve Your Job Search

While doing well in your career isn’t necessarily relatable to Spiderman’s quest to save New York, the point is that skill and ambition are often one side of a double-edged sword, especially in today’s recession-tainted job market. Ask any high-achieving high school graduate: the higher the aim, the tougher the competition. The average high school grad had to face admission rates bordering below the 10% line this past spring, a trend that seems likely to continue in an age where overachieving has become the norm.

For students who accept the Hellish juggernaut that is modern college admissions, the goal is clear: a degree that can catapult them to the head of their applicant pool upon graduation.

Well, what happens when this logic fails – when even the supposed ‘best and brightest’ can’t seem to scrape by?

In a rather offbeat news article yesterday, we discovered that Trina Thompson’s answer was a lawsuit. After spending 4 years and $70,000 on her Monroe College information-technology degree, Thompson blames Monroe’s Office of Career Advancement for her stagnant job search and demands a refund.

While we here at Doostang do not necessarily purport a full-blown collegiate lawsuit, we’ve worked with enough frustrated recent grads to relate. There is indeed a disconnect: a nation full of young, intelligent, and motivated college grads without the job market to accept them.

There is a rebellious part of our brain that screams: be drastic! Take to the streets! Protest this terrible injustice! But in lieu of providing legal advice, we would like to provide what we thought were a few creative, rather than radical, tips to help you, the bright and talented, stand out among…who else, but the bright and talented.

1. Know Your NewsFeed

You’ve heard time and time again about how social network sites like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and (of course) Doostang, can help you get ahead in your job search. (Or, alternatively, behind…time to untag those pictures from uncle Lou’s Christmas party, anyone?) But instead of focusing on the content of your ‘about me’ section or the legitimacy of your photos, why not pay more attention to your status updates?

A constant stream of “Johnny is searching for a job”, “Johnny is still on the job hunt”, and “Johnny is absolutely desperate for employment” can get old – fast. Not only that, but status updates like these can make the people in your network feel uncomfortable. Instead, try using your status updates to let people know about all of the things you are doing besides looking for a job. Make updates about friends’ accomplishments, share interesting articles or videos that you’ve found online, or post exciting details about your newest hands-on home improvement project.

Try to post things that encourage conversation. Build a following. People love content, and they’ll reward you for it. Online social networking isn’t any different from face-to-face networking in that it takes time and effort. You have to build relationships before asking for help or advice.

2. Ban Comic Sans

Make a date to sit down with your resume and focus a little more on format rather than content. You’ve undoubtedly gone through and noun-ified all of your verbs by now (I was an “early childhood care specialist” rather than “girl who babysits for her cousins twice a week”, for example) – so now is the time to make your resume beautiful – or, at least, readable.

We personally wish that all resumes could be submitted in Party LET, but since this practice is typically frowned upon in professional settings, the two main categories you need to be looking at are Serif and Sans-Serif fonts. Serif basically means with a ‘tail’, or the little flip you see on letters in fonts like Times New Roman. Serif fonts give your resume a more traditional look, kind of like how leather-bound books make your apartment seem classy and sophisticated. Sans-Serif are, predictably, fonts without that ‘tail’, and are the family of fonts most often used on the internet (e.g. Arial, Helvetica, or Verdana). They create a more contemporary, streamlined look.

Which font you choose depends on your personal preference and the job that you are applying for. The most common font for business use is Times New Roman, but we advise trying a few fonts on at home just to see what you like.

There is a wealth of information on the web to help you format your perfect resume: here’s a great article by Karen Burns Working Girl on Electronic Resume Writing.

3. Go Shoe Shopping

The Devil is in the details. It’s common knowledge that polishing yourself up for an interview is an important part of the job search process – but have you polished enough? The fact that your shoes are actually polished or your fingers manicured may carry as much weight as your neatly pressed pantsuit. In short, an interview is like a first date. Just as you don’t know your date well enough to look beyond the petty, your new employer will pick up on cues from wherever possible as well. Make sure that you are giving the best impression – let them fall in love with you before busting out those endearing brown loafers.

So, when you’re down and out, and you feel that even Superman couldn’t get a job in times like these – try thinking beyond the obvious to give yourself a competitive edge. Take it from us, the opportunities are out there, (really, we know, we see to it that they’re posted up on the Doostang website every day) – it’s now up to you to go out and get them!

And if that doesn’t work, we highly encourage donning a red and blue spandex suit and learning how to swing across buildings with sticky string. Let us know when you figure out how to do that.

Saving the World One Job at a Time,

Team Doostang