Conquent: Without Limits
Conquent: Without Limits
Kristen Fife's Blog

A Degree Is Not A Substitute For Experience

2011-01-04 11:04:19
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I've had a lot of questions lately from professionals with 3-5+ years of experience in the workforce that are either contemplating or have gotten an advanced degree, and how to apply this additional education to a new career.

So here's the thing: unless you are getting a degree to help you advance in your current profession, when you get out of school unless it is a lateral industry move, most likely you will need to start with an entry or lower level job. People who think that getting an advanced degree guarantees them an immediate increase in responsibility and pay right out of school don't understand basic business principles.

For example, if you have been a recruiting coordinator and you attain a BA in Human Resources, it is reasonable to believe you can get a better paying job in the HR field. However, if you decide to get your MA in Marketing, chances are you will need to start as a Marketing Coordinator or other support role. Don't expect to become a Marketing Manager the first year out of school doubling your salary. Theoretical classroom knowledge is not going to substitute for on-the-job experience. It is one of the reasons why internships are so valuable for undergrads. Employers don't always have the luxury of training new employees in business practices as well developing their theoretical skills into practical business applications.

A couple of years ago there was a question on LinkedIn about whether getting an MBA right out of college was a better option than working for a couple of years first then getting the MBA. My response was (and still is): work first. Gain an understanding of business in general, find out what you like and are good at *in a business setting*, then decide what you want to do with your MBA. It makes you a more valuable candidate and you may be suprised at the results.

Just as reading romance novels does not give you the experience of being in a real relationship, neither does studying the dynamics of business principles make you a keen businessman.

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