Not long after graduating from college, I was offered a good position as an overseas in-house translator for a decent company. Many of my peers back then were preparing for exams and interviews to enter master’s programs. Tired of school and unwilling to turn down the position, I jumped right in and started my career. However, after working here and there for five years, I found myself wanting to pick up where I left off and pursue a master’s degree.
It was a tough choice. Joining a full-time master’s program would mean halting my career and spending all my savings for something that may or may not benefit me. I was well into my twenties. Would going back to school for two years be worth the time? I needed a little while to really think and evaluate. I quit my day job, came back from abroad and started a small business to earn a living. At the same time I sat down and did some solid thinking.
One whole year was spent making the decision and preparations. Then I sold my business, said goodbye to my colleagues and left my homeland yet again – this time to become a full-time graduate student.
Many fresh undergraduates face the same question that I did: Should I get a master’s degree while I’m still familiar with the work from my bachelor’s degree or should I get a job first? Honestly, although a master’s degree may get you a fatter paycheck and give you (arguably) higher status, undergraduates sometimes have an easier time actually finding a job. Many of my friends with a master’s started with the same salary as I did when I graduated. But some of them later climbed quickly up the career ladder and ended up earning a lot more than an employee with a bachelor’s.
Studying for a master’s degree is a commitment of time, effort and energy. And the outcome is always uncertain. Before you make such an important decision, there are a few questions to ponder first.
What am I looking for?
You may want to continue and get a master’s degree immediately if you wish to become an academic or know exactly what your field is. But if you are not sure and may consider changing your career later, it might be best to postpone graduate school. Entering a master’s program is the easiest way to change your field later on. One of my friends switched from linguistics to law and became a lawyer after graduate school. It is very important that you know exactly what your goal is before anything else.
Do I have the financial means?
Let’s be realistic here. Graduate schools are expensive. Except for the tuition, you need to pay for room and board, books and office supplies, etc. In principle, there are four ways you can get funded: scholarships, self-funding, student loans or parental support. One of the advantages to getting a master’s later is that you can fund yourself with the money saved from work and be an independent student. But by the time you graduate, you may have gone overboard and used up all your savings and have to start with nothing all over again. If you have abundant financial support from your parents, or the school is willing to grant you a scholarship, heading straight into a master’s program might not be a bad idea. Personally, I think it’s risky to take out loans for a master’s degree which probably won’t yield benefits quickly. Before you know it, you may get caught knee-deep in a swamp of debts over the next couple of years!
How is the job market?
Today’s job market is highly competitive and changes constantly. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes a person with a bachelor’s degree has it easier than one with a master’s when it comes to landing a job. Some employers, based on my experience, prefer undergraduates because they are like “a piece of blank paper” and easier to train, while graduates are equally without experience but are “more arrogant” and “demand more.” Companies value experience more than a diploma. If there is a good offer right after college, it is wiser to go for the job first. Later when you pursue your master’s degree, you will be able to combine practice with theory and gain deeper insights than your classmates. With several years of work experience plus a higher diploma under your belt, your competitiveness will be greatly enhanced and you may finally find your dream job. There are even instances where employers are willing to pay for your master’s program or offer some benefits.
Do I have the motivation?
Whether you are looking for a master’s program right after college or prepared to pursue a higher degree after prior work, you need the motivation to go through with it. Even more so if you are entering a part-time degree program. It can be exhausting to juggle work responsibilities and a master’s thesis. Not only is it a time commitment, you also need to dedicate considerable effort to finish what has been started.
After countless hours of writing my thesis and studying for exams, I will finally graduate and get that shiny master’s diploma in a couple of months. With six years of experience working, I stand out quite a bit in the search for a position and have already received several offers. But the balance in my bank account is close to zero, and I need to start over just like a fresh undergraduate. Do I regret halting my career and pursuing this degree? Not really. But yes, sometimes I still wonder: What would have happened if I had chosen to get a master’s right after college?
Photo 1: China – Red – Linh Dao
Photo 2: Chuxiong, China – Neutral – Buek kingdom
Photo 3: Chong Quing, China – Waiting – Iwzee
Photo 4: China – Reading – rongyiquan
Photo 5: Kunming, China – Passengers – Chutharat Kamkhuntee
Photo 6: Shanghai, China – East Nanjing Road – pruciatti
Photo 7: Shanghai, China – Nanjing Road – TonyV
Photo 8: Guangzhou, China – On the banks – S.L. Sio
Cinemblem: Perypatetik youtube channel
The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed
Awdejuk, Pawel. Niepewność – The Road to Freedom – Poland. July 2018.
Bell, Sarah. The Bushfire Drive – Australia. July 2018.
Bondarenko, Evgeny. Twenty Plus Years. August 2018.
Cajoto, Christina. The Trajectory of Life – España. August 2018.
Castañeda, Martha Corzo. Worried Workers – Peru. February 2018.
Cooleridge, Tweeney. Uncertainty in the Abstract – Slovakia. March 2018.
Cordido, Veronica. The Crib of Uncertainty – Venezuela. January 2018.
Dastan, S.A. Uncertain Waters – Turkey. March 2019.
Deiana, Sara. The Dark Side of Perfection. September 2018.
Electra P. Aβεβαιότητα: The Enemy of Romantic Relationships – Greece. February 2018
Escandell, Andrea da Silva. Compromise – Uruguay. March 2018
Fischer, Kristin. Talking about Cancer – Germany. September 2018.
Goumiri, Abdennour. Uncertainty Is All There Is – France. February 2018.
Guerrero, Marilin. Crossing the Uncertain Path of Life – Cuba. February 2018.
Guillot, Iuliana. Preparing for Change – Romania. June 2018.
Huihao, Mu. Going the Uncertain Way. July 2017.
Julber, Lillian. What Will Tomorrow Bring? – Chile. July 2018.
Kanunova, Nigina. Metamporphoses in Modern Life. June 2018.
Konbaz, Rahaf. So You Say You Want A Revolution – Syria. March 2018.
Korneeva, Kate. One We – Russia. April 2018.
Krnceska, Sofija. No Name Country – Macedonia. May 2018.
Lassa, Verónica. The Old Eastern Books of Uncertainty – Argentina. May 2018.
Lozano, Gabriela. El cuchillo de la incertidumbre : Piercing Uncertainty – México. January 2018.
Phelps, Jade. Healing Journey Pulls Us Apart – America. June 2018.
Protić, Aleksandar. Environmental Uncertainty. August 2018.
Romano, Mavi. An Uncertain Democracy – Spain. April 2018
Ranaldo, Mary. Incerto or Flexible: Italia and UK. March 2018.
Çakır, Peren. Building a Future in Times of Uncertainty – Argentina and Turkey. May 2018.
Sanmartín, Virginia. Qué Será, Será – Spain. June 2018.
Samir, Ahmed. Uncertainty in Personal Life. January 2018.
Sekulić, Jelena. Nesigurnost of the Past, Present and Future – Serbia. June 2018.
Sem, Sebastião. Vagrant Poets. September 2018.
Sepi, Andreea. Uncertainties Galore – Germany. April 2018.
Sitorus, Rina. When Uncertainty Reaches the Land of Certainty – Indonesia and the Netherlands. May 2018.
Trojnar, Kamila. Ephemeral. October 2018.
Quintero, Jonay. The Fear of Not Knowing – España. January 2018.
Uberti, Alejandra Baccino. Adventure – Uruguay. September 2018.
Vuka. Lacking Uncertainty in Political Culture – Serbia. April 2018.
Younes, Ghadir. Economic Uncertainty in Life – Lebanon. Part 38.
Zakharova, Anastasiya. LGBQT – Russia. August 2018.
Translators and writers from South Africa, Argentina, Lebanon, India, Croatia, Brazil, Mexico and other parts of the world…
Source: The Codex of Uncertainty Transposed