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Life After Graduate School

Prepare for graduation ahead of the crowd to increase your chances of getting employed and paying off your student loans.

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Graduate students who already have a career, and were in the degree program in order to advance in that career have less to worry about after graduation. Students in their last year of masters degree program who do not have a job in their prospective field should begin their career search immediately. Spring is the perfect season to begin strategizing for your job search, because come graduation, recruiting season will be in full swing.

There’s some good news and some bad news when it comes to the job search. Bad news first: It might take a while, and you may get so frustrated that you want to give up. The good news is that you won’t. If you start early, keep your search diligent and focused, you should expect to land a full-time position.

Finding a job after graduation might take a lot of creativity.

Managing Graduate Student Loan Debt

You might be dealing with student loan debt from your graduate studies. There’s a lot of information on the web about whether or not grad school actually pays off. The general consensus is that the type of masters degree you pursue factors into how well it pays off after graduation.

When borrowing money to pay for your masters degree program, try for grants and scholarships since these do not need to be repaid. If you do need to take out student loans, take the time to understand the terms of each loan. You can get student loans from the federal government, a private company, or both, and each will have their own separate terms.

Masters degrees in the sciences, such as a masters degree in engineering will typically have a larger payoff than a masters degree in the arts. Masters degrees in business administration (MBA) are also still considered a sound economic investment. Do your research before entering into your graduate program to make sure you understand the financial situation you are getting yourself into.

Finding a Job After Earning Your Masters Degree

Due to the still shaky state of the economy, some graduate schools have extended their career services to recent graduates who are having trouble securing a job. For example, in 2009, Cornell University’s S.C. Johnson Graduate School of Management assigned career advisers to each student at the beginning of the school year. By the end of the year 95% were well on their way to starting their careers. Check out your school’s career services department now to find out what services are available.

Start researching companies that you might want to work for early on in your last semester. Learn about each mission and goal of the company and find out the person in your department that you need to contact. Set up a meeting with them and lay on the charm. Have a purpose for the meeting. Pick their brains on their thoughts on the industry and make sure you give a lasting impression. Who knows what opportunities could come out of this meeting?

Keep in mind that fewer employers are hiring recent grads because of the unemployed applicants who have a greater amount of job experience. While there’s not much you can personally do about the unemployment rate, you can improve your chances of landing a job. When you are still in graduate school, you should complete multiple internships. While it will be more work, it will expand your network and increase your job readiness.

Finding a job after graduation might take a lot of creativity. You may have to relocate to an area away from your friends and family, or take a job in a field not directly related to your degree. Or, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, try starting your own business. If one idea doesn't pan out, try the next one.

The economy is getting better, but the truth is you graduated in a time of economic strain. Although this does directly effect your chances of gaining full-time employment, the key is to not get discouraged.

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