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Should I go to graduate school?

EquipotentialEquipotential Posts: 77Registered User Junior Member
edited December 2012 in Graduate School
I've been out of college for a year but haven't found meaningful employment yet. There is already a huge gap in my resume that I haven't found a good way to explain to interviewers. I can't get a job paying more than minimum wage despite the fact that I have been sending out hundreds of resumes. Either way, I think the shelf life for my degree has pretty much worn out at this point. But the heavy debt from undergrad is hurting my credit, making grad school even more risky. Should I go to graduate school and take on even more debt or stay underemployed, further ruining my resume and hence my chances for employment forever? Looks like a lose lose situation for me.
Post edited by Equipotential on

Replies to: Should I go to graduate school?

  • NYScholarNYScholar Posts: 36Registered User Junior Member
    There's always the option to study part-time while you currently working and looking for a meaningful job.

    This fall, I will be starting grad school but I really wanted to take sometime off to gain some meaningful experience but with no response with employers, i decided to attend grad school now.

    Also, depending on your educational background, you might want to look at doing consulting work to polish your resume while working at your current job.
  • HisGraceFillsMeHisGraceFillsMe Posts: 4,701Registered User Senior Member
    Not being able to find a job isn't a good reason to go to Grad School. Figure out what it is exactly that you want to do. If that requires an advanced degree, go to grad school. But don't use it as a crutch to avoid the bad job market--you might end up in the wrong program, which would only put you in even more debt and would also be a waste of time.
  • vienneselightsvienneselights Posts: 411Registered User Member
    what kind of grad school?
  • juilletjuillet Posts: 5,829Super Moderator Senior Member
    Your question is very vague. Go to graduate school for what?

    In any case, I think the answer is probably no. You've only been out of college for a year; that's not long enough for the "shelf life" of your degree to expire. The economy is not so good and it's taking people longer and longer to find employment now. A graduate degree (without a clear plan for why you need it and what you are going to do with it) is only going to add more debt and won't necessarily get you a job. Keep trying to find employment.
  • EquipotentialEquipotential Posts: 77Registered User Junior Member
    Well, at this point, I think I'm going back. I just applied to over 100 more jobs with no results.

    Experts agree that long term unemployment is very likely to make one unhirable. Excellent case in point, me. I need to go back to "reset the clock".

    I'm thinking about doing engineering or computer science. But either way, no matter what I do, it's worth it just to avoid the question, "why haven't you found a job in the past year?" No matter how you put it, there is no good way of answering that question. I just need to make sure the question isn't even asked in the first place.
  • NovaLynnxNovaLynnx Posts: 1,323Registered User Senior Member
    Sending out "hundreds" of resumes is pointless if you are not taking the time to tailor each one for the specific job you are applying for. This includes tailoring a cover letter as well. It takes a lot of time, but if a job is a good fit for you, it can make all of the difference.

    Taking any job - even at a low rate - is better than avoiding all jobs that don't meet your salary requirements. If you literally having nothing on your resume, then I can't imagine the point of having a resume unless you accomplished a lot in college. You might start out as a cashier somewhere, but it isn't unheard of to be promoted into a management position within the first year, especially if you have a college degree. Retail has high turnover at all levels, so moving up with the company is viable as long as you work hard and not just slack off because it's minimum wage. Many other industries are like this as well. You need to start somewhere - but most importantly, you need to START.

    As for answering that interview question - what have you actually been doing this past year other than sending out so many resumes? Have you volunteered anywhere, taken extra courses or self-taught yourself in some area? If you've done nothing but sit at home pitying yourself, then it's no wonder you're not being hired anywhere. That is no one's fault but your own.

    I don't think graduate school will help you if you are so lost in what to do. Like you said, it'll take more time and money and you may end up in the same position you are in now. If you're dead-set on it, at least find a job and do it part-time so you have some kind of income while exploring your academic options.

    For some credibility, I am a human resources manager. I graduated with a BA in psychology and found a job as a department sales leader at a store I worked for part-time a few years ago. I was in that position 7 months before the HR position opened, and I got the job, along with a decent raise. Now that I have some HR experience, this is something I can take into any industry, not just retail. I have gained operations knowledge and sales skills, even if the first position I landed with the company wasn't so great. Sometimes you need to swallow your pride in exchange for an income - but where that first job takes you, you never know. It could be a dead-end, or it could move you up into assistant store manager, or regional manager, or some other kind of position in the company. It depends heavily on your attitude and work ethic.
  • EquipotentialEquipotential Posts: 77Registered User Junior Member
    I wasn't being lazy. I did tailor my applications. This took a considerable amount of time. Many many hours per day for many applications. I also spent time improving my computer skills. I also applied to all sorts of jobs, even basic ones like being a cashier.

    Well, either way, no strategy can save me now. My resume will just be weeded out by companies' HR computer system just for having time gaps.

    Not even McDonalds wants someone that was unemployed. And its not like I can make up stuff either since companies run background checks.

    I'm kinda stuck.
  • NovaLynnxNovaLynnx Posts: 1,323Registered User Senior Member
    You never worked while in high school or college? Did you do any internships or volunteer work in the past? I'm sure you did something in college that could be discussed in interviews, such as having a leadership or membership position for an organization, volunteer work, research experience or internships, etc. You still develop desirable skills doing any of these things and should be discussed in your cover letters. But without more information on your major and accomplishments, it's hard to offer tailored advice.

    If you really have zero experience to draw from, then I suggest going out and volunteering somewhere on a regular basis while you continue to job hunt. This way you can put something on an application, develop personal references, and contribute to something you believe in.
  • juilletjuillet Posts: 5,829Super Moderator Senior Member
    Long periods of unemployment do make it more difficult to find a job, but many people are able to find employment after not working for a year or more. And even if it is your long gap that's causing people to reject you - and it may be a variety of other things - the answer is not necessarily to go back to graduate school. It doesn't "reset" the clock - your life before still matters.

    There are many companies where a computer system doesn't weed out applicants, but real people look at resumes. Only very large companies are using these programs - many small businesses don't have the resources to do so, and thus have an actual HR person or maybe the owner looking at resumes. What are you trying to get a job in? DO you have any skills that are in demand? Have you had others look over your resume?

    I second NovaLynnx's suggestion to find somewhere to volunteer your time. Even volunteering looks better than doing nothing, and you might learn some valuable skills. Or see if you can find an internship for recent graduates.
  • BambooPandaBambooPanda Posts: 33Registered User Junior Member
    I think you have to analyze what your goals are. If a PhD program seems like a good way to meet your goals, then go for it!
  • EpimetheusEpimetheus Posts: 9Registered User New Member
    Gonna bump this and ask whether a gap in unemployment would look bad on graduate school applications. Especially one that's class profile averages 4-5 years work experience and the average age is 26 (Georgetown SFS). I'm 22, a year out of college.

    By the way, Equipotential, I'm in the exact same spot as you are. Starting an unpaid internship in January but might be a bit late.
  • polarscribepolarscribe Posts: 3,232Registered User Senior Member
    No, they aren't going to care about a gap in employment. A foreign service school will, however, care about a lack of work experience in the field. You just noted that you're quite a ways outside the experience profile for the average admitted student, which is not a good thing.
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