By Laura Morrison, April 2015
When it comes to deciding whether or not to attend graduate school, one of the biggest questions prospective applicants find themselves asking is, "what can I do with my graduate degree?"
Conventional wisdom holds that those who don't attend graduate school for a particular profession, such as doctors and lawyers, typically hope to pursue careers as college professors upon receiving their Ph.D.
While academia is a perfectly desirable goal for some, there are many other applicants who don't wish to remain in the college or graduate ecosystem once they receive their advanced degree. The good news is that despite what conventional wisdom may have told you, pursuing graduate education in a non-specialized field might enhance your ability to pursue career opportunities in almost any industry.
For many who enroll in graduate school, the primary benefit is acquiring the necessary skills or credentials for pursuing a career in a certain field. This means that for some professions, where these specialized credentials aren't required, submitting to the rigors of graduate studies may seem like an unnecessary step.
But before you too hastily write off the prospect of pursuing higher education, it's important to understand the very significant, if intangible, benefits that can be gleaned from graduate school.
More than a process of acquiring new information, graduate school is a balancing act between conventional learning and professional development. This presents a unique gauntlet that graduate students must navigate that balances keeping up with reading, assignments and papers with attending networking events, meeting new people and interacting with some of the top minds in your field.
If this is beginning to sound a lot like the business world, that's because it's the same sort of challenge employees are faced with in the course of their daily assignments. Almost every interaction in graduate school is a professional one, whether it be attending a seminar or sending an email to your supervisor. Those who go through this process in school may develop skills that help them to be far better equipped to navigate the workplace.
You've heard the maxim before that it's not what you know, it's who you know.
Fortunately for graduate students, pursuing higher education might actually one of the best ways to meet people and make professional connections. Not only will you be working with some of the top academic minds in your profession in your teachers and advisors, but you'll also be surrounded by fellow students that share your passion for your field. These people can be invaluable resources when you graduate, whether you're looking for a letter of recommendation to win over a venture capitalist or trying to find a business partner for your startup.