G.L.Piggy [at] gmail.com
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Instapundit links to a CNN Money article titled “My master’s wasn’t worth it” in which a handful of master’s degree recipients tell their stories about how they allowed themselves to get ripped off by pursuing the middle child of college degrees.
In my experience as an esteemed MA holder, the only thing the degree (one not from an upper-tier institution) is good for is impressing the type of people who don’t know that a master’s is generally worthless. So, basically, my co-workers and people who watch lots of reality TV and people who come from an era or from families in which degrees of any kind were scarce think that it’s crazy-insane-wow that I have a master’s degree. And when they come to know that I’m a waiter (or, for my co-workers, that I have a master’s) they are flabbergasted and then they get scared because if I have a master’s and am waiting tables then what’s going to happen to them? I have to admit it is kind of entertaining to watch this thought travel through people’s minds when they learn this fact. It’s like “oh wow, cool, wait, what?, oh shit!”
Now it’s been more than two years, and I’m competing against fresh grads for entry-level positions and leadership training programs. A career counselor told me I missed the boat on getting a solid return on investment for my master’s.
I have three part-time jobs. I am an unpaid volunteer in a local hospital’s HR department, I’m a content manager for a video game website, and I clean typewriters… yes, typewriters.
I’m stuck with a large amount of debt, I have this fancy master’s no one cares about, and I can’t get the experience I need. I’m really at a loss of what to do.
I feel the same. I doubt that the master’s on my resume (because that’s all it is at this point – just a spot on my resume) has any value. I was named employee of the month at my company back in ’07, and I bet that is worth more than my master’s degree. It would be cool if there was some tool that could analyze lines on the resume to see which ones hold the most value for an applicant. I know that there are professional resume builders who know what is valuable and what isn’t, and I’d be interested to see their take on master’s degrees, especially in relation to non-credential qualifications.
I came out of a finance degree and didn’t have anything lined up. I can’t say I was pounding the pavement looking for positions, but I made a mistake by not pressing for internships during my undergrad years. That seems to be the only ‘in’ nowadays. I had top grades among Finance students but just didn’t think or know and hadn’t been told how important internships were. So I just focused only on school work because that’s what I was best at. So I graduated and didn’t immediately find a job so I decided to enroll in a master’s econ program. Again, I just assumed that opportunities would flow to me because that’s pretty much what you’re led to believe when you’re in the diploma mill bubble. Everyone in that world has convinced themselves that everything will work out fine because if they hadn’t convinced themselves of it they wouldn’t be in the bubble in the first place, and I was dumb enough to go along.
I started the master’s and then did actually get a job in the industry but then quit that in order to complete the master’s because I still believed that what I’d set out to achieve was worth the high sticker price. Another degree holder at CNN:
I thought this wide array of experience would at least get me interviews. After hundreds of applications over the past four years, I have had less than five interviews.
Even though the recession has been tough, I too have had only two interviews. Both of them were set-up by people I knew who knew HR people. So I’ve literally not had one single interview with a company that found my resume and thought that based upon it I’d be a good fit for their company.
I hope this doesn’t sound like a complaint. When it comes down to blaming individuals, I’m the only one to blame. Beyond that there’s just been this massive structural overvaluation of the master’s (and bachelor’s and J.D.) that is a function of many other things that can’t be pinned on any one person. Schools and the government and society and employers and the media and popular myth advertised to us all that a master’s degree and other degrees were sure things. That’s been proven wrong. If I’m a sucker, and I believe I am to some extent, I can take solace in the fact that I (we) am (are) among the first wave of suckers. It’s better to be one of the first suckers rather than one of the last.