Graduate Students – Career Options
One of the main reasons students continue their education or return to school for a graduate degree is to achieve access to better job opportunities. You hope your job search will result excellent career options with good employers offering high wages and good benefits. You want to be have more control over the direction of your career.
The truth is, while having an advanced degree will help you to get these things and will also statistically lower your chances of being in the unemployment line, a graduate degree isn’t a guarantee of a job offer. Your career options are tied to the actions you’ve taken toward landing the job you desire.
What Are Your Career Options After Graduation?
If you are a student who is wondering about your graduate career opportunities, reverse your thinking to “what opportunities do I have now to create career options when I graduate?”
Opportunity #1 Consider All Career Options Now
Some graduate students desire to secure an academic position. If you fit into this category, you may want to start researching how your skills and credentials can translate to a career outside of academia. The corporate arena may be something you’ll want to explore in case you are unable to obtain the academic position you want quickly enough. This is one way to open your options for employment and it doesn’t stop you from continuing to pursue the path you desire. What it will do is help you obtain a paycheck and benefits!
Opportunity #2 Research Pathways to Finding a Job
Before you even have to “hit the pavement” as they say, think about how you will go about finding a job after graduation. The number one rule for any job seeker is to make connections. You are more likely to land a job through networking (“it’s who you know”) than by your credentials alone. Getting to know other graduate students in your field, getting to know professors, joining professional organizations, working part-time or volunteering in your field — these are all excellent ways to create V.I.P. passes for future job opportunities. Don’t discount the career center at your university, job boards, and family and friends as good ways to connect to career opportunities. You never know where they will come from.
Opportunity #3 Start Your Career, Graduate Later
It may sound out of the norm, but if you are concerned that employers are more interested in experience than your graduate degree (especially if you have little or no experience), you may want to look at getting some solid experience on your resume before you graduate. Sometimes graduate students are permitted to stay in their program and temporarily delay graduation.
Recent Graduates – Careers Are Out There!
As seasoned professionals compete with you for jobs, you will find today’s job market challenging. Just remember that your degree is an achievement that cannot be taken away and will support you throughout your career. It was worth the time, money, and effort and your career is out there even if your first job opportunity is not all you had hoped for. Make the most of your job experiences and focus on career planning and development strategies to steer your life in the direction you choose. With a graduate degree you qualify for opportunities that are beyond the reach of many others. As you gain experience in your field you will continue to learn more about the direction you want to take.
Lynn Mattoon is a Content Editor & Career Writer for Collegejobbank.com, a Beyond.com career community.