Grad school vs Real World Experience – Part 1

Brazen Careerist is hosting a debate on Thursday that hits home for me. It hits really hard. They’re asking what’s better, grad school or real world experience? I personally think it’s not even debatable. There are benefits and drawbacks for both. Your reasons for seeking either should be based on which will get you farther due to your own set of circumstances. My story is admittedly pretty crazy but I wouldn’t change it for the world. It wasn’t easy and I spent a lot of time packing, moving, adapting, working, pulling all nighters but in the end I had the time of my life and proved something to myself. Because this as been such a major part of my life I’m going to separate my posts into parts, but hopefully a full picture begins to emerge. Let’s start in 2008.

I’ll keep the beginning of the story short. I attended the University of Cincinnati from 2002-2007. In this time I switched major about a million times, moved almost every year, worked part time, interned for 6 months and finally graduated with a degree in Communication. I love my alma mater but the Communication department leaves A LOT to be desired. We were never encouraged to take advantage of the schools top rated Co-Op program. I was literally the only Communication major to do so and I had to fight for it. There was almost no career training, with the except of a class on “Careers in Communication”, but why spend money on a fluffy class like that? We also received no career counseling so after graduation I had no idea how to transition into a job. I spent months sending in applications and got no where. I felt ill prepared by my school and knew that I had just scratched the surface of what I really needed to know as a communication specialist. Luckily, my desperation turned into googling and I happened across Emerson College. The moment I read the description of the “Communication Management” program the heavens opened and I was sold.

I spent the next few months prepping for the GRE’s, requesting recommendations and preparing writing samples. I dragged my Mom to Boston for a short weekend and knew Boston was a place I needed to be. I waited for months and heard nothing. I was actually called by one of my professors at home after he finished writing my recommendation letter. He explained to me that he would be shocked if I was excepted to Emerson. This obviously didn’t help my morale. In March I accepted a promotion at my job and prepared to make a career in hospitality. Life changed again in late May when I received a large white envelope in the mail. Apparently, after some hiccups (my transcripts being sent incredibly late by a certain school) Emerson finally received the final piece of my application and I was accepted. I ran upstairs, totally out of breath, and said “Dad, I’m moving to Boston!”. And thats where everything began.

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