After graduating from the University of Tampa in December 2014, I was feeling like most college graduates: lost and confused. I had a degree in an area that I was interested in and was ready to take on the world. But, as the months passed and the lack of job offers started to weigh on me, I realized that I may need to swallow my pride.
Sometimes you have to realize that it isn’t your time yet.
Change of plans.
I took a break from applying for every marketing position under the sun and started focusing on positions that I also had skills in – thank you years of administrative work. No, I didn’t instantly land my dream job. But, I figured it was a more reasonable alternative instead of sitting at home with no money. I would continue working till I came up with a more stable plan and found the job that would be perfect for me.
Making the most of a gap year.
I stayed in the administrative position for a little over a year – a year well spent. I really started to think about the direction that I wanted to take. Marketing is such a broad topic, and if I didn’t have a focus I wasn’t going move up the career ladder the way I wanted to. I spent every night learning more about the different components of marketing. I didn’t feel like undergrad gave me a true or holistic view of the field, so I took matters into my own hands.
Narrowing down Master’s degree options
My search started with schools that had an MBA program with a focus on marketing. As I browsed through the various programs and schools, nothing jumped out at me. For something that is such a large investment of time, energy, and money, I didn’t want to be bored and disinterested. I also didn’t want a degree that was similar to what I had already done in undergrad. I wanted to learn something new and a degree that would help me stand out. So, I started looking into other marketing graduate programs.
M.S. in Integrated Marketing Communications
I finally found the perfect fit. It may be a mouthful to say, but it is the perfect blend of marketing, advertising, and public relations. Most programs separated the three disciplines, but for someone like me with limited experience, I wanted to see all sides. There are only a handful of schools that offer this degree, or you may see a similar program under a different name.
In the end, I narrowed it down to three schools and sent in my applications. I was accepted into two out of three schools. I think choosing the right schools and programs was more nerve-wrecking then actually waiting for the application decisions.
As I get closer to the end of the program (Graduation, May 2018!), I couldn’t be happier with my decision to go back to school. I love the Integrated Marketing Communications graduate degree program and it aligns perfectly with my career goals. I also appreciate that I can apply what I learn to my day to day work life. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my days where I wish I didn’t have any work to focus on for class. But I had to remind myself that it was only temporary. This short-term sacrifice would have a worthwhile payoff in the long run.
My advice to you
Don’t get discouraged. It may seem overwhelming, but managing your time and resources wisely will help streamline a seemingly temporary schedule shift. Deciding to pursue higher education is a decision for yourself, so you can meet your goals. Don’t feel the pressured by others. You will know when it’s your time and what program may be the best fit for you. It is an investment and sometimes the right investments take careful planning and preparation. You, and only you will know when the time is right.
Did you decide to pursue a Masters, Doctorate or PHD? What made you go back and what advice would you give others?