If you're considering investing a few years of your life studying for a Masters of PhD, you may want to first ask whether or not employers value such a qualification.
What is the point of a Masters degree? It's a lot of work, a lot of expense and a lot of sleepless nights - you want to be sure you're going to benefit at the end. The QS Top Grad School.com Masters and PhD applicant survey 2009 questioned over 3,000 candidates, asking them what they expected to get out of a graduate degree. Over 70% said they wanted to improve their employment prospects. It seems that prospective postgraduate candidates believe they will not only land a better job, but progress faster up the career ladder with an MA next to their name.
Whilst this may be true for some graduates, Steve Icampo, Manager of Worldwide Staffing at Amphenol Corporation, sounded a note of caution for those who believe a Masters will be a passport for future success. You should not assume that education will get you to where you want to go; what will get you there is you. Icampo says anyone contemplating studying for a Masters should be armed with two things. Firstly, work experience. I would hope that candidates have worked a bit before they make a decision, says Icampo. The further you go with education, the more specialised you become - so you really need to make sure that the course is for you. You really need to think it through very carefully before you undertake the course. A Masters is a major investment and it will determine how you will be perceived in the market place.
Icampo says candidates should also research where they want to work once finished. Ask yourself, what commercial project do you want to be involved with? You have to be able to show the market place that you have something that people need. You won't know what that is unless you find out for yourself and sometimes the only way to do this is by working.
If you're not passionate about what you are doing, you shouldn't do it
The second thing Icampo believes potential graduate students should have before they make their course choice is passion for their subject. You have to follow your passion. If you're not passionate about what you are doing, you shouldn't do it.
Icampo believes that school and course choice will become much easier once a candidate has thought through their decision. You could end up going to a small school with an expertise that is highly regarded, so make sure you research both the school and the department's reputation. Icampo says if candidates have thought through their decision, finding a job at the end should be easy. As you go through the graduate project, the choices you make on the program you take, your internship, and your thesis will help with your job search. You should be thinking of where you are heading with it, he says.
Amphenol is a S&P 500 company involved in making connectors and inter connectors for high speed data. The company is the second largest maker of connectors and has 85 facilities in 30 countries. Icampo says that recruiting is often done locally, but once someone has joined the company it is very easy to be noticed, despite the company's size. There are plenty of opportunities to shine. It is impossible to say with any certainty where the industry will be in ten years time, so the company relies on people who are happy to work in flexible environments. Icampo says that one of the great strengths of the company is that engineers get to see the manufacturing process from end to end. Our engineers are involved with the whole life cycle of design, so they tend to see things in a much broader way.