When to leave grad school off your resume
I have been railing against grad school for a long time, and I’m starting to believe that you should leave grad school off your resume if you are not working in the field you studied.
Here are five reasons why putting grad school on your resume makes you look bad. (And at the end of this post, there’s a game plan for what to do with any gap you’ll have when you remove grad school from your resume.)
1. Grad school on your resume is a formal announcement of a mistake.
If you are working in the exact field that you went to grad school for, then this advice does not apply to you. But most people do not get jobs that are directly related to their graduate degree. Most people did not need to go to grad school to get a job.
Which begs the question, “Why did you go?” For most people the answer will be that it was a mistake. It was a lot of time and money spent for a degree they didn’t need.
Other people will say they love to learn. This is not a good thing to say because it is not remarkable. At least, not among the people you need to be better than to get hired. Those star employees are learning all the time and do not take time away from work to go to grad school. Are you so stupid that you cannot learn without getting grades? Because this is what it looks like if you say you went to grad school because you love to learn.
You might say that you went to grad school because your parents were paying, or because it was a free ride. But this does not bode well for your work ethic. Because your time is valuable. Or at least you need to talk like it is, so that you can get someone to pay you for it. If you just went to grad school to kill time, you will probably kill a lot of time at work, too.
2. Grad school on your resume makes you look like you’re worth less money.
Going to grad school in a field unrelated to your job is like having an irrlevant job on your resume. And you already know that people leave stupid jobs off their resume. Grad school is like that — a stupid job that detracts from your story.
The story is really important: A resume is a story of how you managed your career in a way that is focused on what you want to do right now. You don’t need to tell your life story. You need to tell a story that makes you look like the perfect candidate for your perfect job. If your resume shows that you’ve done tons of things—like study law and work at an online marketing firm—then you look more like a generalist, and you won’t be as desirable. Specialists get more money than generalists.
3. Grad school on your resume makes you look like you’re scared of adult life.
Generally speaking, people who have huge excitement about creating their own path in the workforce do not go to grad school. People who have excitement about deciding for themselves what to read and what to learn are people who stop going to school and join the workforce. The workplace, done right, is a place for self-directed learning.
Most people who went to grad school did it to prolong adolescent needs for grade-based approval. (Note: This analysis comes from writers at the Chronicle for Higher Education.) This is because the model of grad school is generally outdated for today’s workforce, and high performers see this flaw before they enroll. But people who are scared to try holding their own in the workforce see grad school as a way around the inevitable difficulties of finding a job one enjoys.
4. A Ph.D on your resume often makes you look like a poor self-learner.
Graduate degrees in the humanities are totally useless. I should know. I went to graduate school for English, which served only to give me a little break from real life.
But it’s not just English programs that are dead ends. The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that one would have had a better chance surviving the Titanic than getting a job as any type of humanities professor. Humanities PhD programs suck up time and energy with little return.
Most people who go to grad school for humanities defend their decision by saying they love their topic. But look, if you love your topic, open a book and teach yourself, after work. You don’t need permission, or a graduate degree, to become an expert in something you love. There is little correlation between education and success in the workplace. There is huge correlation between success at work and ability to be a self-learner.
5. Business school on your resume makes you look timid.
If you went to a top-ten school—top ten in the nation, not in your state—then the selection process is so stringent that it’s meaningful that you were accepted. Put the degree on your resume. For those who went to business school anywhere else, the selection process was weak because they make a truckload of money from each student admitted. So having made it into an MBA program there is no big achievement.
But really, if you think you’re good at business, why did you dump $100,000 into business school instead of investing it into your own company? And even if you wanted to learn about business, there are reams of data proving how you learn faster by having your own company rather than talking about other peoples’ companies. So putting business school on your resume makes you look like you don’t have faith in yourself.
Solution: Leave a gap in your resume. Really.
The strongest candidates have gaps in their resume. Taking time off is an honest way to learn about yourself. The interviewer will assume you did odd jobs to support yourself. (Which is what most people do when they are starting off in adult life.)
Instead of putting your graduate school degree on your resume, it will look better if you focus on the other stuff you were doing during that time. Travel, maybe. Or training for a marathon. Or learning to dance. You can tell people you took time off from the typical workday life of sitting in front of a computer. There’s intrinsic value to physically doing something, and you can talk about that when you talk about a gap on your resume.
When an interviewer says, “What did you do during this gap?” They don’t mean what did you do every second. They mean, what did you learn? And they want to hear self-learning, and self-knowledge. They don’t want to hear spoon-fed grad-school learning.
Some of the hardest parts of adult life are gaining self-knowlege and applying it to get a job that is right for you. The best way to show that you’re a strong performer is to tell the story of you facing this challenge head on, day after day, year after year.
I heard a talk by an extremely succesful entrepreneur last week: his core piece of advice was to hire people smarter than yourself, smarter can be with or without a graduate degree depending on the job. University and non university people with graduate degrees are equally part of the fabric of our society as the cleaning lady or the construction worker. They live equally real lifes doing different things.
Interesting article. On the one hand, I can appreciate your opinion that grad school is often time wasted. Yet, it has been my experience that this is not necessarily a forgone conclusion and entirely depends upon the student/professional and the exact circumstances surrounding their decision to pursue higher academia. Certainly, some careers require advanced education. No one wants a doctor who has not completed medical school and only California supports would-be lawyers to sit for the Bar exam without first graduating from law school. As others have pointed out, many scientific professions mandate graduate degrees and there are other a multitude of cases wherein a timely and on point degree or designation may be appropriate.
The problem is not in the schooling but in the students. Too many have considered grad school as an alternative to starting to real life or go back to get another degree due to economic strife. Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to improve oneself; to the contrary, I applaud the effort. The first rule: know thyself. Planning and careful consideration can help one to sincerely support whether the ends justify the means.
Even if the degree is irrelevant, a savvy professional learns how to sell the experiences obtained and skills honed as being applicable to the current opportunity. The most successful professionals are hard -working, clever spin doctors who can sell themselves to get in the door and innovate to stay there.
I went to grad school for a MA in Anthropology because my parents wanted me to & I didn’t know what else to do. Halfway through, I started getting depressed. I denied that I needed help, so by the time I finally went for counseling, I had missed a lot of work for my 2nd semester. My first year ended with me failing & withdrawing from the university. I’ve thought about leaving grad school off my resume, but I can’t think of what I would say to explain that gap.
While there are valid points in this story (resumes are for telling your story, hiring managers just want to know what you learned during the gap in your resume) I think the overall argument is poorly structured and comes off as nothing more than a juvenile rant.
Penelope points out that she got a grad degree she didn’t need and felt it was a waste of time. Fair enough. But don’t write a story telling everyone else they are “stupid” for pursuing graduate degrees. If you want to make that claim, say “I made the mistake of going to grad school for a degree I didn’t need.” Don’t say “you made the mistake” and talk down to readers.
What I really picked up from this article is that you definitely don’t need a grad degree to be an average blogger like Penelope.
If you are a consultant or an expert or have responsibility for the well-being of others in your job description, like say, safety or nursing or security or human resources or on and on and on, then you are likely to be deposed under oath at some point.
Do NOT NOT NOT leave gaps in your resume – ever. You will get to clear them up in front of a judge, or you will get to perjure yourself, or you will get to make your employer look like they didn’t use due diligence in hiring you.
This is nonsense.
I bet reading this blog can raise your intellectual level higher.
In the internet age, is it possible to leave anything off your resume?
One google search pops up all kinds of things about you (i.e. a paper you submitted to a conference, a copy of your college yearbook, etc).
How do you explain the difference between your resume and the traces of what you want to leave behind you that is littered around the internet?
“Other people will say they love to learn.”
What they really mean is they love other people telling them what to learn and they need a piece of paper to prove they like learning. Such BS.
Why is it so hard to accept that there is no one single way of learning. At a university if you use the resources right, you have many people to talk to – learn, discuss, solve problems alone or together. You have times where you sit in your room and brood over a book alone, you have times you work with your fellow students to find a solution. Very very few classes are rote learning, and if you try to get through college on rote learning without getting engaged then you are doing something wrong. You have a large group of people in college or university who love to learn. Why do you dismiss this so out of hand?
Penelope, I’ve been reading your blog for a long time and this is the first time i’ve been truly angry about something you wrote. I can understand that you are trying to discourage people today, in 2012, from wasting their money in a graduate program – and I can sort of accept that, especially if the people are well connected and live in Silicon Valley. But why make people ashamed of the graduate degree that they do have, that they invested their time and money in and were recognized for that achievement? Graduate degrees, like everything else in life, are what you make of them. If you go in because you’re lazy or afraid of real life, then that isn’t going to make a difference in who you are, and hiding it on your resume is still going to leave you a lazy and frightened person without the credentials.
Personally, I never would have gotten a job at the company I am in without an MBA, even at a top 50 school versus a top 10 one, and I doubled my salary and paid back my meager loans in less than 2 years. I consider that a pretty great investment. Not everyone gets that kind of payback, but even without it, I enjoyed the experience, learned a lot, and made friends and professional connections I’ll have my entire life.
If one of my peers asked me if they should go to grad school, I may not steer them on the same path. But I have absolutely no regrets and I have no intention of leaving it off my resume.
Gaps can be explained in many wonderful ways in an interview – if you get one! The gaps themselves might get your resume tossed in the garbage before you even get to talk to anyone.
I agree that completing a PhD in English or an MBA are not a must for learning English or running a company. However, for science and engineering a proper degree is still a necessity. You can’t learn coastal defence engineering by playing in muck in your back yard.
Also, a PhD in sciences is a regular job, with a salary. At least in Europe it is. So I’m not planning on leaving it out of my resume just yet.
I think, unless you are independently wealthy and education is a hobby of yours, it is simply insane to get a graduate degree that is unrelated to your field. To be honest, though, I’ve never met anyone who got a “useless” degree- they all had a utilitarian approach. My job requires a Master’s so that was that for me. What you are paying for is the internship in a field that does not allow noobs to simply enter. Take teaching- besides the standard internship, the average teacher needs to sub for a full school year (or more) to land a permanent job. The internship is an invaluable time to network.
One more thought, Penelope. This might be sound advice if you are planning to work solely within the US. If you are planning some type of career that requires a lot of international travel, this will not look good where higher education is not only valued, but expected.
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I’m a bit torn on this one. I spent thirteen years working in Corporate HR with a Bachelor’s and also supplemented this with a coaching certificate and a side coaching business. In 2009, I decided to go back and get a Master’s in Clinical Psych. Full-time. Now, I’m back in the Corp world as a VP of HR at a Financial Services firm in NYC. It was a step up for me in pay, responsibility, and title. So…personally, I didn’t get hurt by listing my grad degree on my resume and ended up ahead of where I left off 2.5 years ago. It’s arguable that an M.A. in Clinical Psychology is somewhat related to my field, although still a stretch. I think I’m fortunate that I have the other skills (a background in recruiting and career coaching) that helped me sell myself in the job interview. All that aside, I do have regrets about taking 2.5 years away from the workforce and spending the majority of my savings (a lot of $!) on a degree I’m not putting to any real use…yet. Additionally, I’m a self-starter so much of what I learned in grad school, I’d already read on my own. The internship was about the only thing that was useful bc it offered real world learning — ha! — exactly what I left behind. Last, I will say that when I was recruiting, I was rarely turned off by people that went back to school. What I liked was how they explained it as part of their path/following their bliss. Those are people I can respect. But, there is a fine line between following bliss and flakedom. Good coaching helps if this is not an intuitive skill. Generational differences are likely to impact how this is perceived as well.
I couldn’t agree with this more. When I was about to graduate college several people asked me if I was thinking about grad school. I always told them I thought it was pointless for my career (web design). I wouldn’t have even gone to get a masters, but my parents insisted. I’ve learned much more from reading online and going to conferences then I learned during my 4 years in school.
This is a very interesting discussion. I live in the Uk where the focus is on getting a job as soon as the undergrad degree is complete. If you want to be a lawyer, you read law as an undergraduate and then train as a lawyer and that’s the end of studying for ever.
I am always amazed and somewhat intellectually intimidated by the number of degrees people have in the US. Over here, many recruiters would find it quite puzzling!
Grad school: the snooze button on the alarm clock of life.
Excellent advice. The Humanities Ph.D. could draw upon the rhetorical skill developed over the median 9 years it takes to finish to explain the employment gap.
Um–note to people reading this. Penelope is one person. Why do you care what she says about this? She writes inflammatory columns to get a lot of posts and readers posting about her posts because fame of this sort breeds financial success in social media. So you getting all worked up is only helping her be inspired to write more inflammatory posts! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading this blog once in awhile, but really, it’s just one person’s opinion!
I love you Penelope, I really do. But I also went to grad school. Even though my Masters degree is in something “useless”, Creative Writing, I don’t regret it. The reasons are below, but the main reason I don’t regret it is because it has been useful.
1. I attended a community college and a state school for my under grad. I spent a grand total of $10,000 on 4 years of school.
2. Because I attended a 2 year school, I never had to take my SATS, which I never would have done well at. I then transferred directly to a state school based on my 4.0 gpa.
3. I never meant to go to grad school, but I did want to live in the UK. I choose a top school, Edinburgh University (http://www.business-school.ed.ac.uk/about/news-and-press-office/?a=40719) and because it was international, I didn’t have to take my GREs (another bonus for me).
4. I traveled the world, made international contacts, and had my work published during my year at school.
5. After graduation, I was granted a 2 year working visa, because that is what they give graduates of Scottish Universities.
6. I worked for a year as a Writer in Residence in Scotland, which I would have never gotten with my lack of “experience”, had it not been for my degree.
7. Upon my return to the United States, I spent only 6 months unemployed as I readjusted my life, and then scored a a great job working with students at an art school.
I mention my MSc regularly (why it’s an MSc? I don’t know, ask Scotland). And I mention it in interviews. Maybe I am better at selling myself than other people (creative writing means creative on your feet I guess?), but I have never had an interview for a job that I was not offered.
Then again, I’m not in business, so a specialized degree has always been useful and helpful for me.
For me, living abroad was important and since I am not in banking, getting a visa would be difficult. (I say this knowing many people who are bankers and easily got job offers and visas in London). I looked at the Peace Corps, but felt graduate school had a better track record with treating women decently.
I agree with what your saying to a degree
there is no substitute for practical experience, a masters degree is what you make of it and its value is determined by how you use it. Listing it on your resume alone will not mean an automatic job.
If you list a master’s degree on your resume it shows
-you are capable of starting and finishing a task. One can assume you show up on time and are a reasonably dependable person.
-you have invested money and time into improving your education
-it can be part of the total picture that represents why you would be a good canditate
Also a masters degree no doubt helped me secure and internship which can many times lead to a job or can help bridge the gap when you don’t have enough work experience. People will give you a try as an intern because there is little risk. Employers are reluctant to take chances on unproven candidates. Do NOT get a masters degree if you have zero work experience because then you enter a grey area where you are highly educated with zero real life experience. Get an internship or a job and then do the masters degree.
I agree with your post. At work I am currently hiring for an entry level role in business project management that also requires Spanish English fluency. All the resumes I get in that have MBAs or Masters degrees I dismiss almost all of them. Usually the applications that list grad school are individuals who are not bi-lingual that makes me think they did not even read the job ad. I have found that MBAs and grad school level applicants think they will be able to ask for a higher salary, more privileges and quickly become management while the job is clearly not budgeted for that and a Bachelors graduate can very well perform the job. Also graduate degrees in resumes makes me think they will be settling and unhappy with the job that does not pertain to what they studied, they are not good enough to seek a job that requires a masters and they would think the job is below what they would really want and only stick around till something else came by.
I just came across this article and blog while doing some research. I believe this is bad advice. I know of someone who was terminated from a new job for not disclosing that he was persuing an online master’s degree in an unrelated field. While harsh because the degree has not been attained and there is no guarantee that it will be, it certainly does not bode well for people who fail to disclose actual degrees. They must realize that there is a huge risk.
Personally, I believe that any education – and especially the completion of a degree – shows the will to better oneself and the ability of the person to set and complete goals. It is not insignificant and should be included.
It’s not a risk. Most employment is at-will and resumes are to be tailored to the position being applied for. Your friend undoubtedly was let go for other reasons and they came up with something silly as an excuse–it happens all the time.
Wow this was extremely disheartening… I don’t have a choice but to get a graduate degree or I can no longer work in my career. I do not want to go to grad school but teachers do not have a choice or we loose our certifications. I guess I will look somewhere else for advice on a resume.
It all sounds right. After going to school for 8 years (only 4 of them in grad school) after a humanities PhD, I actually had to go back to school for a BS in engineering to become employable. When I put my BA and MA on my resume I would get very few calls/emails. I did get a couple of interviews with people that were openly laughing at my credentials. Even though I had met the requirements for the entry-level position, it seemed the extra BA and MA were something of a joke to interviewers who had STEM backgrounds. These were the same people that would ask me, “What are you going to do with that?” when I was majoring in a useless degree for non-academic jobs. When leaving the degrees off the resume I found I did land a couple of interviews, but when I show up they are obviously taken aback by my age. “You know this is an entry-level job, right?” It’s just too hard to hide your previous life, so I think you need to come up with a good story just incase.
I have been hiring people at levels between entry and director for nearly 10 years and I’ve never looked negatively on a grad degree regardless of the topic. If I overthought it and wanted it to reflect negatively on the candidate I’d perhaps be able to support your arguments, Penelope, but no hiring manager makes this rationale about a grad degree. Don’t leave your grad school off your resume – the story it tells is that you learned critical thinking, team work, perserverance and you climbed that mountain. It wasn’t easy, you did it. You should be proud. You may have taken a different path after school, that’s your prerogative. Life takes us on all kinds of journeys and each one makes us who we are. The company you’re going to work for needs to know your story, don’t mislead them.
This razzled me in the right way.
While I agree with some of what you said in this article, you do seem to have a pretty strong bias against education. When the economy’s in the fragile state its in now, education is somewhat devalued by employers due to the sheer number of qualified and experienced applicants for each opening. However, in the long run, those with more education have higher lifetime earnings. Statistically speaking, that is. Of course there are always exceptions to the rule (or outliers, as statisticians call them), but by and large this is the case. You should also realize that for many professions, a degree is a requirement to even get into the industry, and grad school (such as an MBA) is a requisite for advancement past a certain level. You are right about humanities degrees, though. They are pretty much worthless on paper, but they do have some value in that they make for a more well-rounded employee who will deal with diversity much better than others. Everything you said is completely thrown out the window with regard to the hard sciences, professional degrees, and healthcare-related degrees. Business degrees are sort of on the border, but only because there’s so many of them due to the meltdown of the financial sector and the resulting surplus of job-seekers with business degrees. The one thing I really have to disagree with you on is the self-learner thing. I don’t care how open-minded, knowledge-hungry, or motivated you are, you are not going to teach yourself things like financial accounting (at least not at the CPA level), higher mathematics, regression analysis, advanced psychology, or any of the doctorate-level research methodology and quantitative analysis topics which are taught in grad school. And the things you CAN teach yourself will only be marginally useful as far as landing a job in the relevant industry because the diploma is the gold standard, the stamp of approval, the thing that gives you credibility in your field. Try going to Goldman-Sachs and telling the recruiter that you are self-taught and didn’t need to waste time or money on a degree. See how far it gets you. The one thing I will say about grad school (especially grad business school) is that its not a good idea unless you have a few years of progressive experience. No work history (or no relevant work history, anyway) and an MBA doesn’t really impress anyone.
This comes from someone with a BA in finance and organizational management, an MBA in finance, and a Master of Accounting, so I should know what I’m talking about with regards to the value of a graduate business degree in the job market. What can I say? I had a good job as a construction foreman until late 2007 when the economy took a nosedive. My job disappeared, so I did what I had to do to make myself competitive in the job market. By the way, a business degree in anything other than accounting or information systems is nothing more than an expensive paperweight in this economy.
I’m convinced that you rail against grad school to create controversy to drive traffic to you blog. That’s the only viable reason, because you can’t actually believe the advice you give.
Your anecdotal experience of enrolling in an MA program that was not useful for you is just that – a single personal experience, not representative of what is empirically valuable for the entire population. People with more education, in this country, make more money. This is a fact, and is backed by evidence from countless studies.
But, I guess since you only blog in anecdotes, let’s make this personal. I have a master’s degree in development economics, which I worked hard for and invested a lot of money in. I live in Washington, DC. For most policy jobs, a master’s degree is a prerequisite, and a PhD is often preferred. If I were to leave my degree off my resume, it would be career suicide.
Even if you’re working in a field not directly relevant to your graduate education, chances are you are making more money than had you not gotten the degree. Graduate work requires focus, time, and effort. Employers recognize that. You dropped out of an English master’s program and got a corporate job. The content of these blogs generally confirms that you have little understanding of social science research and what is true for the population vs. what you THINK is true based on your own experiences.
On a final note, I am tired of people questioning the value of MBA programs. Corporate finance is not something you can teach yourself – it was the most valuable course I took in graduate school, and is the foundation of B-School curricula across the country.
this is the stupidest advice ever. if you have a masters degree list it in any and all circumstances. there is nothing to hide.
i tend to hire folks with masters degree.
there is glut of college educated folks. just not many with ambitions to do a masters
this is nonsense – no wonder this country has so few people with advanced degrees and needs foreign talent
I disagree with some of the things mentioned in your blog about graduate school. But one thing I do agree with ; is this if your profession says you must have a masters degree in order to work in the profession. Then by all means you should have one. The same applies to those getting PHD’s A medical student who is graduating needs to have PhD before he or she graduates. A masters degree will get you a job in many different disciplines. For example; my major is criminal justice, there are professions that I can go into with a masters degree. I also currently have a bachelors degree in criminal justice. I have yet to use it; hopefully in the near future I will get the opportunity to use it.
Douglas Rushkoff, in his latest book Present Shock, may take issue with you w/r/t generalists vs specialists.
What strikes me most from this article and its associated comments is people’s reference to “real life”, as if working for money–a completely human-contrived notion–is what life is really about. Having said that, the system of education is also something completely created by people, but it isn’t necessarily “natural” either. As it happens, being in graduate school is indeed part of what you call “real life”. My experience in graduate school is that it is a lot of hard work, you learn many things, meet new people, gain experience, and see a little more of human politics. I was not only a full-time student, but I also had a paid teaching assistantship. Based on all of its facets, you can’t go wrong putting grad school on your resume.
I am currently mid-way through a one year M.A.program in design management directly out of an undergraduate double major in interior design/business. I find this post to be extremely disheartening. I come from a low income family and have been able to have the majority of all of my schooling paid for. I had internships, paid and unpaid. I turned down jobs to attend grad school. Part of my decision to attend grad school was to make connections and expand my professional network. I greatly value the education I am receiving and will never hide something I put so much hard work into.
No such thing as a useless degree. Advanced education is inherently impressive. It reveals elements of a person’s character that show intelligence and initiative. Even Bill Gates looks a little silly being a Harvard dropout.
I’m all for self-teaching. The problem is that you can’t make each hiring manager evaluate your skills. Hence the need of quasi-standardized credentialing, which may take the form of certification exams or graduate degrees.
Another issue is blogger’s assumption that no graduate student has a professional, full-time job. The ability to meet job responsibilities and simultaneously achieve accredited skills speaks volumes of a candidate’s will and time management.
This article is extremely mean-spirited and inappropriate. I assume the writer does not have a graduate degree because either she could not afford it or did not have the time and determination to do it. Yes, gradschool cost a lot but just because you pay for it it does not mean they hand you a diploma. It takes a lof of work to pass the exams and prepare the papers. If I follow the reasoning of the writer than Bachelors degrees are useless too as those cost money as well so are private high schools, etc. So should we all stay uneducated with a high school diploma? For your information, in the government system an advanced degree, Masters or PhD makes a huge difference. You can start as a GS9 with zero work experience if you have a masters, and can start as a GS11 with a PhD, no work experience also. The highest GS grade is 15!
People go to grad school for the wrong reasons. Grad school is usually not job training, in fact much of the time you will not learn a sufficient amount to land an entry level job, if there even is such a thing anymore. The right reason to get a degree is if you really love the thing you are going to study, it has to give you true pleasure. So if you love poetry then studying poetry may be right for you. The idea of university should be to learn how to think for yourself, reason logically, to organize facts and draw conclusions. Unfortunately this philosophy became underappreciated in the 1960’s when drugs, communism, and dirty, stupid politicians tainted the American mind.
Even as a biologist I knew I hated stuffy academia and wanted to be freed from it into the world of biotech. That’s why I didn’t do a PhD. But doing a MS in cell biology was incredibly valuable. There are certain types of critical thinking that just need to be learned from the experts, and you don’t get those type in industrial science. I also was able to jump around to lots of different labs to be able to learn lots of different techniques and tools that most BS kids out of college wouldn’t be able to offer to an entry level position.
Besides, if you work for a year after the bachelor’s, and then go back to grad school, I would say that accomplishing a thesis is a better explanation of a giant two year whole in your history than nothing at all.
Most people including almost everyone above have never been in an HR department as a resume reviewer (And wouldn’t want to be. That would be a very poor career goal.)
The only way to tell would be to send resumes to some companies with the advanced degree included and others without it and wait for the results.
Better yet join organizations populated by people including company decision makers like Toastmasters where you will learn to prepare and deliver speeches that enable you to sell.
Look up Toastmasters locations in your community, visit a meeting, get the book for your first ten topics and get ready for fun, work, and profit. I did.
This is terrible advice. Simply put, as someone who is well-reversed in cognitive neuroscience and neuropsychology, there is little if any merit to be given to your gross over-generalizations and blatant disregard to interpret scientific data accurately. Perhaps you could have learned that in….grad school? Snide comment aside, grad school is what you make of it. You are partially correct in stating that getting a graduate degree in something irrelevant from your current career could hinder you or at a minimum not provide much momentum to you, but grad school is about being producers of knowledge as opposed to the undergraduate model of being a consumer of knowledge. Grad schools have structured criteria to eliminate and weed at future students (it differs from field to field as well). To say the least, I place high value upon people who have the ability to survive and do well in grad school, it shows me that they can deconstruct complex data and information and transform it into something unique that contributes to current knowledge in the field. Taking this concept, you can cross translate this to other fields. So, in other words, rather than getting a degree in a very watered down field (e.g. a B.A. in Towel Washing), universities teach students to have more cognitive flexibility and exercise general cognitive domains (e.g. working memory, verbal fluency, logical reasoning, etc.)