After Graduation: Work or Masters?

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  • Thread starter CivilSigma
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Hello,

I am studying in Canada and I am about to graduate with a competitive GPA.
I have two options before me: 1. Enter the work force or 2. Pursue my masters.

I want to eventually work in structural design and eventually complete my masters, but is it better to complete my masters after graduation or wait about 1-3 years and gain experience?

I have been reading entry level design postings on Linkedin and Indeed, and the majority (90-95%) only require a BASc. But I am unsure how a Masters degree can affect my chances of landing a job as a fresh graduate with no evident industry design experience (positively or negatively) .

Here are some of thoughts:

Pros for doing a MASc. after graduation:
  • Finish with it early wile studying is still part of my "routine". I will be completing my masters at my current university with the profs that have taught me.
  • Become more qualified (more knowledgeable) ( but does that mean more employ-ability? )
Cons for doing a MASc after graduation:
  • Will I become over qualified for entry positions (will this deter employers from hiring me?) ?
  • This is my greatest concern: Will I be employable with only a BASc. in Civil Engineering with internship experience?
  • I really don't want to do a research based masters, 2 years instead of 1 year for a MEng. However, the university only pays you to do research.

And to make it even more complicated:
My professors are encouraging me to complete my masters right after I graduate, but I asked structural engineers at my internship and, although they recommend a masters, they advised to first obtain entry level experience.

Now, I would like to hear from you. May I please ask your opinion about this issue (Masters after graduation) ?

Thank you in advance.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
Choppy
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I can't help but wonder if you're creating a problem for yourself where there doesn't need to be one.

One strategy for moving forward might be to seriously pursue both options. Gear up for a master's program and apply with the intension of going. But also apply to some entry level positions. If you land a specific job where the costs/benefits are better than your master's option, then pursue it. If you find you're coming up dry, then go back to school. Sometimes the "choice" gets made for you.
 
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Dr Transport
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Pretty much any job will pay more than a masters program and you can always go back to get one. Coming into the workforce with an advanced degree and no experience can be a detriment. Salary is the driver here, you can say that you bring more to the table but if they only want an entry level person that is what they are going to pay for, not a person with a masters and no experience.
 
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I can't help but wonder if you're creating a problem for yourself where there doesn't need to be one.

One strategy for moving forward might be to seriously pursue both options. Gear up for a master's program and apply with the intension of going. But also apply to some entry level positions. If you land a specific job where the costs/benefits are better than your master's option, then pursue it. If you find you're coming up dry, then go back to school. Sometimes the "choice" gets made for you.
From an ethical/commitment point of view, would it be acceptable to cancel an organized thesis project with my professors if I get a job?
Also, I will be graduating by December 2018, and my masters/work would have to start by January 2019. I really don't have the luxury of a buffer period from the time of graduation and starting a Masters degree where I can apply to jobs only. So, would it be acceptable to start applying to jobs from September 2018 - and how do I communicate that I will only be available by January 2019?

Pretty much any job will pay more than a masters program and you can always go back to get one. Coming into the workforce with an advanced degree and no experience can be a detriment. Salary is the driver here, you can say that you bring more to the table but if they only want an entry level person that is what they are going to pay for, not a person with a masters and no experience.
As an entry level engineer, I wouldn't care too much about the salary. So technically, a company would not care if I have a masters and would be willing to hire me if I accept entry level salary?
 
  • #5
Choppy
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From an ethical/commitment point of view, would it be acceptable to cancel an organized thesis project with my professors if I get a job?
This is a good question.

Remember that entry in a master's program is usually competitive, particularly if it's thesis-based. (Professional, course-based masters programs may be different.) Students will usually apply to more than one place. You make the commitment once you accept an offer, not when you apply. Accepting an offer is the point when you enter into somewhat of an ethical quagmire because when you accept a position and then renege, you're potentially denying someone else that position, and that's when the department starts to count on you showing up.

The other thing to consider is how much effort someone else may be putting into setting up a thesis project for you. If you've been working with a particular professor and telling him or her that you intent to go on into a master's program and that person has been bending over backward to set up a project for you, you should let that person know you're exploring other options too. Intrinsically most professors will know this already, but the point is to be careful not to burn any bridges. Ultimately you have to use your best judgement.


Also, I will be graduating by December 2018, and my masters/work would have to start by January 2019. I really don't have the luxury of a buffer period from the time of graduation and starting a Masters degree where I can apply to jobs only. So, would it be acceptable to start applying to jobs from September 2018 - and how do I communicate that I will only be available by January 2019?
Yes, it's quite common for students to start the job search prior to graduation. You can simply put on your CV and cover letter that you are available to start in January 2019. Or some people will even leave that as "negotiable."
 
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  • #6
Dr Transport
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As an entry level engineer, I wouldn't care too much about the salary. So technically, a company would not care if I have a masters and would be willing to hire me if I accept entry level salary?

Unless things have changed, most companies won't let you do that. If you have a Masters their policy is salary is based off of experience and or education level. Thirty years ago I was in the same boat, I had a Masters and no experience, I told a company that I'd take an entry level salary just for the experience, they said not happening. You can offer, but....? Now, what happens if you do go get a Masters degree and don't put it on your resume so you can find a job. If you get an interview, they'll ask what did you do for two years since your Bachelors?? If you tell them that you went to school and earned a Masters, they'll wonder what else your hiding if you didn't disclose that. You don't want to go down that path.
 
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  • #7
CrysPhys
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Also, I will be graduating by December 2018, and my masters/work would have to start by January 2019. I really don't have the luxury of a buffer period from the time of graduation and starting a Masters degree where I can apply to jobs only. So, would it be acceptable to start applying to jobs from September 2018 - and how do I communicate that I will only be available by January 2019?
Typically, for a student about to graduate and not having the funds to stay unemployed for long, you will send out your job applications well in advance of your graduation. In your resume, under "Education", you will list

U. of X, BASc. in Civil Engineering to be completed in Dec 2018.

In your cover letter, you can explain further that you will be available to start work in Jan 2019.

Note: When you get a response is a different story. I don't know how things work in Canada, so you should check with employers there. In the US, hiring is typically based on the fiscal years of companies. In the US, fiscal years commonly start Jan 1 (coinciding with the start of the calendar year) or Oct 1 (start of US federal government fiscal year; many companies, such as military contractors, who do a lot of business with the US federal government, align their fiscal years with the US federal government fiscal year); but a few companies start their fiscal years at other times, such as Jul 1 or Sep 1. Companies can interview at any time, but can't commit to an offer until they get budgetary approval (typically early in the fiscal year). In the US, most undergrads graduate in May or June; and companies with entry-level openings will set aside budget for new staff starting shortly thereafter. Towards the end of the fiscal year (often half way through, because the mentality is often to use the funds as soon as possible in case of unexpected cuts), funds for new hires may be exhausted; exceptions apply, of course, if a company receives a major contract well into a fiscal year, and they need to increase staff pronto to meet contract commitments.


As an entry level engineer, I wouldn't care too much about the salary. So technically, a company would not care if I have a masters and would be willing to hire me if I accept entry level salary?
The answer to this question and to your overall general question is, "It depends on the degree and on your local job market." For example, in the US, I would say don't pursue a MS in physics, but do pursue a MS in EE. You need to find out specifically about a BASc. vs a MASc. in Civil Engineering in Canada; particularly in fields such as civil engineering that may require special licenses, special certifications, or supervised work experience, you need specific, not generic, guidance. You need to talk to people with specific knowledge of civil engineering practice in Canada. Does your university have a career counseling office that can refer you to the right people? What about your professors? Any of them have industry experience or industry contacts (other than the place you did your internship, so you can get additional perspective)?
 
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  • #8
Dr Transport
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US companies on DoD contracts are continuously hiring, it takes a long time with their bloated HR systems to get a requisition out, gather/filter resumes, interview candidates, make offers and get someone onboard. I've seen 4-5 months before offer letters get out then by the time you start it is no less than 6 months. If your graduating in December, you'd better be getting resumes out now.
 

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