I decided I was going back to grad school when I was 20
I was in my first internship at Boeing and I learned that my
manager had his MBA. I also learned that my mentor on the team was on track to
get her MBA. So when I learned that Boeing sponsored graduate degrees for
employees, I decided I was going to get an MBA.
Fast forward three years later, I’ve studied for the GMAT,
taken the GMAT, applied to grad school, and I’m not getting an MBA.
Instead I’m so excited to get a masters
of communication in digital media degree at the University of Washington.
So why am I going
back to grad school?
At my core, I am content creator, a marketer, a public speaker, and a
I knew this before in college and am starting to really realize my
strengths after working a few years out of college.
I’m personally interested in:
The relationships, development, and connections
Sharing compelling (personal) stories that help
connect me with my readers
Challenging, educating, and informing my readers
of a new perspective, thought, or experience
For my career, I’m interested in:
Setting and communicating overarching company
Humanizing my company brand both internally to
our employees and externally to our shareholders
Additionally, I’m interested in creating a
diverse, inclusive corporate culture that allows ideas to flourish
I would also like to explore new or more
effective ways to deliver news and stories across the company
My Previous Work and Education Experiences:
I completed two finance rotations with the
Boeing Company that have strengthened my technical skills and enhanced my
finance business acumen.
I also have had a year working in Sales with
PepsiCo where I learned how to develop my selling style and how to build
relationships with customers.
I have a solid business background from my
undergraduate degree from the University Of Washington Foster School Of
Why do I need a graduate degree?
In my next chapter of my professional, personal, and academic career, I want to focus on developing my creative
and communication skills. I believe I’ve had a very well rounded business
foundation from college and my first few years out of college. It’s time for me
to develop my passions and skills.
I can see myself doing many things with my career. I can see myself
planning airshows for the Boeing Company and I can also see myself in social
media consulting. I can see myself as an executive one day and I can also see
myself coaching and developing others to be more effective communicators in
I believe if I pursue this passions of content creation, marketing,
writing, and digital media, I’ll be in a better position to realize all these
Is Grad School Right for You?
Here are a few guided
questions to help decide:
Question #1: What do
you want out of your career?
Do you want to move into management? Do you want to run your
own business one day? Do you want to specialize in your function?
Depending on your company, you may need additional degrees like
an MBA to move into management. Or if you want to become an expert in your
field, you may need a more focused graduate degree. I would take the time to
answer this question for yourself. You don’t have to have your exact career
plan, but a general idea of how you want to spend your time in your career can
help you figure it out.
What gives you energy when you think about work? What makes you excited in your
career? What previous roles did you like and dislike?
Question #2: Do
you have any interest in pursuing a graduate degree in these next 5-10 years?
If the answer is yes, you might as well research programs to
see if anything else peeks your interests. Even if you are on the fence about
going back to school, I would take the time to see if there are
any programs that could potentially help your career.
As I was researching MBA programs around Seattle, I
discovered the MCDM degree at UW. I read through the different courses they
offered and I wanted to take every single class. I was so excited when I
discovered the degree that I knew I had to choose this path.
Question #3: “I’m interested
in going to grad school but I’m on the fence about it…”
If you are interested in grad school, but don’t know when or
what to major in OR are interested in a specific degree, here are a few
pieces of advice:
1. Reach out to people in your network who have attended the
program(s) you may be interested. Ask them for an informational interview so
you get an idea of their experience in grad school. Here are a few tips for setting up an informational interview.
2. Research programs, read classes offered in the program, and
see if any of those classes excite you. If you see classes that will help you learn a new skill set and you’re excited about the curriculum, you may want to do further research on the degree and how it can help you.
3. Weight the opportunity costs between the cost of grad school
+ time spent in school verses how you would you spend your time if you didn’t
go back to school.
Because grad school is not cheap.
For instance, the total cost of tuition for the Masters of
Communication Digital Media program is $31,680 (this doesn’t include fees,
books, and lodging). But out of the program, I’ll be better equipped to work in
the digital media field and I know how this degree can help me advance in my
career (planning airshows or even consulting).
Advice: I would write out the costs of the program you’re
interested in, think about how you would finance this program (scholarships,
working full time, loans), and think about how this degree would help you in
your career get to your next step.
4. Talk to your mentors, your manager or your team for
If you want to go into a management path, ask your manager or
previous managers you’ve worked with how they got to where they are. If you’re
interested in specializing in a field, talk to those subject matter experts on
your team or organization to see what lead them to their path.
5. Work different types of jobs that you may be interested in
or work in different industries out of college. The more experience you get,
the better you’ll have an idea of what you like and what you don’t like in a
So who else is heading back to school with me this fall?
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Photos: Holly Phan