To Post Grad or Not?

by Tracey Regimbal

Maybe I’m alone in this, but graduate school sometimes feels like a choice between financial stability now and financial  stability in the future. How did I choose? Obviously my passion for sweater-vests and late night cafes made academia a tangible option.

When I graduated from my first degree I really thought employment opportunities would be kicking down my door. I left McGill with an International Development degree and thought I’d be scooped up by the United Nations, GreenPeace, or something alike. This was obviously not the case, although it did allow me to perfect my bartending skills.

After a couple months of not hearing back from job applications I bit the bullet and started applying for part time positions while waiting for opportunity to knock. The problem was that I had to apply for positions I was overqualified for and they didn’t want me either. Not only did I get rejected by many places who were looking for fresh-faced highschoolers, they thought I would be too bored in the environment. I’m not saying they were wrong but I would’ve liked to make that decision for myself. So, since we don’t live in a barter economy, I faced the need of returning to work my 5 pm – 4 am bartending job. It didn’t take long to realize that I missed studying and I decided to further invest in my education.

When I pictured of myself post university I really envisioned a career girl in a big firm in NYC, and not moving back into my parent’s house (Tiny Furniture style). The reality is, the economy is terrible and young adults are suffering the worst. My close friend moved from Australia to London with hopes of finding betting employment opportunities but faced the same jobless economy. She wrote a lot about her experiences both with unemployment but also underemployment (http://www.cutoutthestars.blogspot.ca/). It this concept of underemployment is globally relatable right now and I don’t think I’m alone in my discouragement.

So what’s the solution if you can’t get into a place of stability? I decided to continue my education at McGill. I always had a passion for academia, I just thought I’d be a bit more grown up before starting a masters. Now, at 24, I’m just finishing my 2 year Knowledge Management MLIS degree and feel like there’s a lot more direction in my life. I don’t want it to sound like Post Graduate studies was in any way a last resort because it is an incredible opportunity which many don’t have the chance to experience. Now I cannot imagine life without my Post Graduate experience and encourage everyone to look into it. I have compiled a list to help others decide.

Tracey’s List of the Advantages of a Higher Education.

-Building your social network
-Fostering your knowledge base
-Attending conferences filled with reputable experts in your field
-Increased marketability
-More job opportunities
-Choosing from a greater variety of paths
-Personal Growth and development

and of course

-Ignoring your pending coffee addiction a little longer
-Mingling with other Post Grads over pitchers at the Grad House
-Pulling all-nighters to finish group work
-Being able to say “I’m a Post Grad”
-Sushi study dates
-Adding letters to your name
ie Tracey B. Regimbal: BA, MLIS
-Geeking out every time you hear your friend’s Dr Who’s Tardis ringtone

I’ve obviously taken an unconventional root in terms of pursuing my academic career, but I’m so happy I did. Why  did you decide to continue in the academic world?

4 thoughts on “To Post Grad or Not?

  1. I’m nervous about leaving my Masters degree, “prepared for the real world” and still meet the same fate as my undergraduate. It is possible that our economy is shaping a future of Professional Academics. Not that that’s a bad thing. Education FTW.

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  2. I spent five years working after my MSc. I had good, stable, challenging, well-paying government jobs. But I realized that I wasn’t really cut out for life in a cubicle and that I missed learning, doing research and teaching too much – I wasn’t happy. Once I allowed myself to recognize that, it was an “easy” decision to trade in my financially comfortable corporate lifestyle for a significantly less comfortable (i.e., poor) student lifestyle. I don’t regret it one bit and have never been happier or more sure about my future.

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