Experience Is The New Black: Does My Degree Even Matter?

Workin’ Girl

What a time to be alive.

From YouTube vloggers and podcasts to social media influencers, it's the age of the entrepreneur.

If something isn't happening for you, you can make it happen for yourself, and on your own terms. It's that simple. And while I love living in this time of inspiration and limitless possibilities, I feel like my Master's Degree is just collecting dust. I literally wouldn't even know where to start looking if I needed to find it right now.

This has really made me question whether I should have gone for it in the first place. It hurts to say that, considering Sallie Mae refuses to let me be great after I took out loans for an advanced education. But a graduate degree and even a Bachelor's Degree doesn't seem to hold the weight that it used to. Was it worth it? There are times where I am not so sure.

We all know experience is the new chick that everyone seems to be eyeing right now. So, does my Master's Degree even matter? If you have a Master's or are thinking about pursuing a Master's in the future, here are 4 things to keep in mind:

Back To The Basics

Drake's multiple shout outs for Black educated women wasn't the only reason I went to graduate school. To back track, I was so excited to get offered my first job weeks before I even graduated from college with a Bachelor of Arts in Advertising. But it didn't take long for me to realize I wasn't happy in my first full-time gig. Let's just say sales is definitely not my strength.

During this time, I started to reflect and think about what I really wanted to do with my life, and what dreams I had that I was too afraid to go after. It didn't take long for me to realize that I wanted to work behind-the-scenes in media. But I thought there was no way I could just jump into that right away. I looked up different graduate programs and came across a Journalism one at Columbia College Chicago. I applied after the deadline, so I was shocked when I got accepted.

I went to graduate school because I felt like I needed more knowledge on a topic that I didn't get in undergrad. Considering this, I really believe I made the right decision because of my career change. Please don't ask why I even got a degree in Advertising to begin with. I was all over the place back then.

I Got The Experience Anyway

The experience I actually received in grad school, is what prepared me for life after. The program I enrolled in was rigorous to say the least. It didn't help that it was based on a subject I had no interest in at the time – public affairs AKA Blah. But I figured if I could write about that, I could write about anything.

Thankfully, I was right. I learned how to write articles on tight deadlines, find a story to tell in nearly any situation, and most importantly, discovered my voice as a writer. In hindsight, I surely wasn't ready to work for anyone's publication without this experience. If I had to give anyone advice on whether to attend graduate school, I would definitely tell them if they want to go, find a program that's hands-on that way you gain experience while getting your learn on.

It Got Me To Where I Am

I started to get real experience outside of college when I attended a panel the school hosted that featured local magazine editors. I connected with a woman who ran her own magazine, and started writing for it for free. While it was my first unpaid contributing role as a writer, I was able to do celebrity interviews and get into the entertainment and lifestyle side of media, which was truly my passion. Thankfully, I could actually apply those skills I learned in class to writing for that publication. Plus, it helped me get a handful of writing samples that would be needed to write for other sites.

Over time, I got better and found that I absolutely loved it. I remember telling someone about it and they told me I should start looking for paid positions. I never even knew that was a possibility. I just knew I loved to write and that I wanted to do it as much as I could. I applied for a few positions and soon found that I could make just as money writing as I could at nearly any other job that I went after.

Make It Work For You

I'll never forget the day one of my former bosses gave me a major side eye when I told her I had my Master's and followed it up with how much I was making. It's safe to say the dollars weren't adding up. But I partially blamed myself because I didn't value my advanced degree. I even thought about taking it off my resume because I didn't want to turn off employers. Talk about desperate. Then I realized that I worked hard for that thing and anybody who wanted to hire me would know what I was bringing to the table with me.

Ultimately, my Master's Degree proved to be worth it. It was what I needed to experience on my journey to achieving my dreams. It not only helped me develop the skills I needed, but it was a time in life where I really found myself and my voice. There's no way I would be who I am now, or even have those life-changing moments to write about, if I didn't go to graduate school. Clearly, it's not for everyone. College period isn't for everyone.

And while graduate school might have been so last season, before experience hit the runway, I have to admit I'm glad I could get in where I fit in.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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