In the fall, I took part in the Communications and Marketing Networking Night at University of Toronto Mississauga. It was my second time sitting in on this speed-networking event as a “professional.”
It was also the second time I was the last “professional” to leave the event, as so many students wanted to ask me questions.
Did they want to know what a day in the life of a Communications Co-ordinator was? Sure. But, overwhelmingly, the questions were:
- After I finish my degree, should I get a master’s degree or a post-grad diploma from a college?
- Why did you choose a post-grad diploma?
- How did you choose which college to attend?
- What was the program like?
- Why did you feel you needed more education after your degree?
- Should I go to college after university?
So, following 2.5 hours of questions and answers, I decided I’d write a post answering all of the students’ questions and outline exactly why I did a post-grad program following my five years at U of T.
If you’re considering post-grad education, this is for you. If you have written off the possibility of post-grad education, this is for you. If you’re convinced getting a master’s degree is the way to go, this is for you. If you’ve been out of school for a year and are having trouble finding a job you’re passionate about, this is for you. Basically, everyone should read this post!
Money, money, money, mon-ay, MONAY!
For many university students, paying off student debt is a daunting task, and the thought of having to take on the added cost of post-graduate education is less than desirable. The upside of a post-graduate diploma from a college is that it comes at a fraction of the cost of a master’s degree. My program was about $5,000.
If you’ve already been in university for four or five years, what’s another two semesters? The public relations program I enrolled in after university was only eight months long, plus an internship. Other post-grad diplomas are two years.
I know that you’ve already been out of the work force for at least four years and want to start making money as soon as possible, but while you’re already in study/education mode, stick with it for just a little longer – the payoff can be huge!
I believe the career you will find yourself in will be far superior after another year of practical education than if you started your job search immediately following university….here’s why:
Practical, hands-on, industry-specific learning
Most university programs are quite theoretical in nature. While university taught me many things, including discipline, time-management, organization, study skills, teamwork and management skills, I left feeling like I was somewhat knowledgeable in many areas of business, but not an expert in any particular one. I knew a lot about the field from a theoretical standpoint, but couldn’t necessarily apply my knowledge practically.
You might feel the same way about the program you are enrolled in, and that’s OK. University allows you to get a sampling of many different areas of study.
College is great for allowing you to pick your favourite industry, area of business, etc., and refine your skill and knowledge of this specific field. You spend much more time in the classroom – I’d say twice as much – and about half the time you’re used to buried in books and personal study.
You are taught by experts in the field who teach you lessons based on real-life examples they are dealing with at their other place of employment. In my case, I not only learned what PR was, but how to be an excellent PR practitioner. This industry-specific learning included writing labs, case studies, social media and web-development classes, group projects, guest lectures and panels, which all contributed to me leaving the program feeling confident that I could excel in my first PR job.
I knew that my boss could ask me to write a press release, help plan a press conference, conduct daily media monitoring or help develop a communications plan and I’d be able to do so effectively.
Perhaps the most valuable part of a post-graduate diploma is the internship component. It’s during your internship that you get to apply your newly-acquired skills, network with professionals in your industry, be mentored, have the chance to be hired full-time, and gain awesome references for your job search once the internship is completed.
Now, I don’t want you to write-off pursuing a master’s degree. It’s an incredibly value learning experience, too. Certain programs can also be quite practical and have internship components. If you want to pursue further education in a field such as history or theology, for example, a master’s is certainly the way to go. There are professions where you simply can’t progress in that field unless you have a master’s.
Choosing the right educational path takes a lot of thought. Not every master’s program is right for you and not every post-grad diploma is right for you, so do your research.
I’m a huge supporter of post-graduate education and college is far too often written off as an option. If you want to learn more about my invaluable post-grad experience, feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly!
Are you considering doing a post-grad diploma after you graduate?
Photo credit: London College of Fashion short courses