"Failure to Launch" Career Advice

In summary, the person is considering a Masters in Data Science at a State University online program. They are being encouraged to consider a job first by friends and family before doing this. They are currently saving up money after getting though a rough patch and getting sober. They are wondering if the Masters is worth the ~30k it costs. They are wondering if they would be taken seriously as having a "related field" to computer science. They are wondering if the Masters will help them get a job that they would normally apply to with only the physics bachelors. They are wondering what it will be like when they do start to apply to companies in big cities. They are hopeful that they will be able to get a job and without the
  • #1
b1anthony
5
3
I took some time off twice getting through college just about a year each time. I also have about a years worth of failed classes and a GPA of about 2.02. Although my major GPA is around 2.5 still not that great. Graduated in 2017 officially but last class was taken in 2014. So its. . . well been a while. 2003-2014 off and on gap then diploma in 2017.

I recently found that by talking with admissions that I might be accepted into a State University online program for a Masters in Data Science. I am being encouraged to consider a job first by friends and family before doing this, and I'm trying to decide what the best plan is.

I am currently saving up money after getting though a rough patch and getting sober, so I feel like I'm finally ready to do something with my degree. Although I've talked with someone who graduated almost 10 years before me who I started school with and they mentioned how most places want to hire someone fresh out of school, and most entry level jobs want some experience. So this lead me to think about getting the masters to help make me look better on paper.

Is a Masters in Data Science (which I believe is through the IT department at this college), going to be worth the ~30k it costs. I wonder if I would be taken seriously as having a "related field" to computer science. Will it help me get a job that I would normally apply to with only the physics bachelors? I think it would but how much? and is it worth getting in debt while working a part time job and living at home cheaply.

Unless I can find a job suited to furthering my career locally, (small town central California) which has seemed unlikely and difficult but not impossible. The plan now is that I would be saving up for 1-2 years to have the money needed to look for a job and cover moving costs to the city. Or working and getting the masters over 3 years (2 classes per semester) while saving up money then finding a job and moving to the city with the student loan debt.

I've had people tell me to try and get my masters paid for by my employer, but I wonder how likely that will be since I am only think of getting a masters from a school that accepts a 2.0 GPA and in a field different than my bachelors.

Will anyone take me seriously with such a bad transcript and it being almost 7 years since I've attended school with 0 career related experience?
Is feeling like getting a Masters will help fix this issue and that is my only option but is that just wishful thinking? Will I still be in relatively the same position I am now? Or is that the best way to be taken seriously in the job market as a soon to be graduate from a masters program?
 
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  • #2
What was your major?

Are you aware of data science courses online? These courses are designed to provide the skill that companies are looking for and some let you intern for companies.
 
  • #3
Do you have a job now? Have you worked over the past 7 years? I think you need a job, any job, to work at for a couple of years, build references and establish that you are now a responsible adult. Doing well at a master's degree would also help wash away that past, but you need to eat too, right?
 
  • #4
I had been working on and off pretty steady as I went through school, and right now I landed a job at a gas station just 5 mins from my house. Its a good job and isn't stressful. I had been getting around on my bike for 5 years up until a year ago and have worked at about an average of 1 job per year for the last 10 years. I plan on staying in this job and just looking around at jobs in the area and beginning saving again for a year before I decide weather or not to do the masters program.

I guess I'm wondering what it will be like when I do start to apply to companies in big cities. Since I won't be doing that until I have a decent savings account. I hope that I will be able to get a job and without the masters I didn't even consider it a possibility until last fall, so It's a lot to think about and I pushed back my application until next spring.

physics is my major, and I am looking at an online program that happens to be from a state university, online is the only option for me at this point while working.
 
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  • #5
What is it that you are waiting for? I suggest that you do all of the above. Why do you need to have money in the bank to enable you to apply for a job? Don't get me wrong, money in the bank is a very good thing but you should start the outreach today. You will never find the perfect time to "start" seeking a job. The only way to learn what it will be like to do it.
If in fact you really prefer a less stressful existence and are willing to accept the limitations that may bring, then embrace that lifestyle and find other creative outlets. But you can ruminate for a year and be no wiser, just a year older.
 
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  • #6
I should just apply and see what happens, seems like a good idea. I mean all this guess work is what is making me anxious, its true that I won't know what to think until I get responses.
and the less stressful bit was just me comparing this current job to the one previous which was mostly just a case of poor interpersonal communications. I am welcoming the chance to take on new challenges. Necessity is the mother of invention maybe ill find a way to overcome the financial hurdles once I hear the starting gun.
 
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  • #7
Sounds like a plan. Good luck. :wink:
 
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  • #8
I agree with others to do many things, but I do think there are some priorities. A steady job for multiple years is step #1. Switching jobs is fine, so long as it's a step up. Showing a measure of stability combined with some velocity forward in your career is critical. It will be hard to be hired without that.

I worry a bit about the Masters of Data Science degree you're looking at. $30k is a lot of money to throw at an online degree in a field I presume you have never worked in or around. Why that one? Internet hype? Saw the salary estimates somewhere and decided to go for the cash? Careful study with full awareness of the field and a passion for the kind of work they do?

If it's the last one, go for it. As others have said, there's a lot of free stuff online to learn from. However, some of what you're looking for is signaling. A good GPA from a challenging degree at a well regarded university will mean a lot to an employer looking to hire you. Just make sure it meets the "challenging" and "well regarded" parts; an introduction to sk-learn from a crummy university is going to just be throwing thirty grand away.

I know we have a few folks in analytics on this board (including me), so if you have questions, here or PM, I'm sure we'd be happy to help.
 
  • #9
How it started:
I originally was looking into programs that would accept a 2.0 GPA and a purely online school Western Governors University came up. Looking into it the only technical program related to physics was data science. After getting into that program so easily I decided to try for something more difficult and found a post comparing West. Gov. Uni. to University of Wisconsin.

I was thinking about University of Wisconsin because it was the cheapest online program from an school with a campus. Admissions encouraged me to apply since they have a wholistic approach toward admissions.

From what I've heard UW is far better than WGU, which makes sense but how does it compare to other top universities?

I was hoping to find the most challenging program that I could get into, (and be successful.) As far as online programs go I haven't found anything closer to physics than data science. I don't realistically think taking a year off work and doing a physics masters would be possible and that even comes in 2nd to the difficulties of being accepted to a program with such a low GPA.

I don't really know much about data science but am interested in the jobs I see especially when it has to do with machine learning. I saw a job for a company owned by John Deer that was using machine learning and needed software engineer interns for smart spraying of plants with pesticide, to decrease pesticide use by up to 90%. This really got me thinking about how I could use my technical knowledge to go places I wouldn't have thought, like working in agriculture.

I saw a job posting from NASA where they need data scientists to help with the search for exo-planets. And having taken a lot of astronomy in college I was surprised to see opportunities I might qualify for one day if I headed down the data science career path.

So I think I would love to work in the field of data science but motivated only because of this lone educational opportunity. Perhaps a few work opportunities in the same or similar fields would be as productive? Maybe getting those 5 years of work experience are better.

My only reason for seriously considering the masters over work experience is the comfort I am finding at home for the first time in about a decade. Being sober and spending money on myself to have the comforts and luxuries of home make me want to stay here and work in town. I have had a hard time finding work in our area for just part time jobs, and having steady work for the first time in a while feels like something to hold onto.

Finding another job seems daunting and unlikely at the moment but I suppose I am presenting myself better each year of sobriety. I think to myself that I could make this time more productive by getting a masters while I work a part time job at a gas station (34hrs/week), and in the event of finding a more career oriented job I could continue the program while changing jobs since its online.

Taking the recommended course load of 2 classes per semester that makes the program 3 years and ~30,000, quite a commitment. Will I find a job before then? or will I be here for 3 more years looking wishing I had started earlier? I am going to spend this year, researching and looking for work to see how people respond then start the program next Spring ( or maybe this Fall) if I still feel I need it.
 
  • #10
Locrian said:
I agree with others to do many things, but I do think there are some priorities. A steady job for multiple years is step #1. Switching jobs is fine, so long as it's a step up. Showing a measure of stability combined with some velocity forward in your career is critical. It will be hard to be hired without that.

I worry a bit about the Masters of Data Science degree you're looking at. $30k is a lot of money to throw at an online degree in a field I presume you have never worked in or around. Why that one? Internet hype? Saw the salary estimates somewhere and decided to go for the cash? Careful study with full awareness of the field and a passion for the kind of work they do?

If it's the last one, go for it. As others have said, there's a lot of free stuff online to learn from. However, some of what you're looking for is signaling. A good GPA from a challenging degree at a well regarded university will mean a lot to an employer looking to hire you. Just make sure it meets the "challenging" and "well regarded" parts; an introduction to sk-learn from a crummy university is going to just be throwing thirty grand away.

I know we have a few folks in analytics on this board (including me), so if you have questions, here or PM, I'm sure we'd be happy to help.

I was interested in University of Wisconsin and for the reason that it might be the only worthwhile program I could get into with a ~2.0 GPA. I didn't see any other masters program I would be interested in. I have another response posted above but I'll try to make this one more by the numbers

here it is by the numbers
I am currently working at a gas station (34 hours per week) near my dad's house that I rent for $600/month since he lives with his girlfriend I'm her alone its a pretty relaxed living situation. So I'm thinking this is one way to take advantage of the low rent I am being offered, scheduled to increase $100 per year. I really do like it here but I'm not putting away for my retirement at all. I guess I could stay longer if I did something to make up for that like increase my earning potential? Is getting a masters even doing that?

A So i figure I can stay here work at the station and save up money and then after 3 years have a savings account masters degree and then. . . 30k student loan debt.

B or just work at the station until I find another job and start looking n o w and just accept that this time will be less productive career-wise and try to save as much money.

or is establishing a steady work history, saving money, and becoming someone who will interview more productive than I am giving it credit for?
 
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  • #11
b1anthony said:
I saw a job for a company owned by John Deer that was using machine learning and needed software engineer interns for smart spraying of plants with pesticide, to decrease pesticide use by up to 90%. This really got me thinking about how I could use my technical knowledge to go places I wouldn't have thought, like working in agriculture.

I saw a job posting from NASA where they need data scientists to help with the search for exo-planets. And having taken a lot of astronomy in college I was surprised to see opportunities I might qualify for one day if I headed down the data science career path.

So I think I would love to work in the field of data science but motivated only because of this lone educational opportunity.

Alright, sounds like a plan. Let me throw out some additional thoughts. My goal with these isn't to change your direction, just to give your journey context.

First, let me expand the field a bit. The magic combination is this: math, computers, and professionalism. By professionalism I mean an ability to work with others, to influence others, to present well, and to perform. By computers I mean programming - the ability to make them do what you want. A masters degree in data science is a perfectly fine way to show evidence of math and computer skills. Other degrees that work are statistics, operations research, and computer science. Masters & PhD's in physics are not uncommon, engineers are not unheard of, mathematics is totally reasonable, and there are even a few actuaries here and there. I had an individual with a political science degree on my team for a short while; COVID related issues resulted in them moving on, and I miss them all the time. They were fantastic.

So if that's the route you've picked, go for it. If you run into bumps, be aware there may be more than one path to a similar destination.

Secondly, let me temper some expectations. Both those jobs you mention are real jobs. You might even get the agro one (the NASA one will be hard). But be aware that most jobs are more mundane. Data science in operations in server farms and cloud computing are a big thing now. There's a huge chunk in marketing, especially digital marketing. I'm not saying you're going to have to make a career out of getting folks to click on ads, but you may have to make do with it for a time. Even the agro job is going to be in a cubicle.

These jobs will require programming and ingenuity, but they'll require that professionalism thing, too. You'll need to work with others who won't always have the same point of view, manage managers who don't understand your work, and sell clients on ideas you may or may not think are good ones. It can sometimes be 20% data engineering, 10% data science, 70% powerpoint.

I still think it's a great career. My advice is to be patient and flexible. It's not good enough to be good enough, you have to be better than everyone else applying, and your competition is smart, hardworking, and well educated. The degree alone won't be enough - you'll need solid work experience and persistence enough to find a place to start. Stick with it and keep us updated.

Best wishes and PM me if there's anything I can do for you.
 
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Related to "Failure to Launch" Career Advice

1. What is "Failure to Launch" Career Advice?

"Failure to Launch" Career Advice refers to guidance and support provided to individuals who are having difficulty transitioning from their current job or career path to a new one. It is specifically targeted towards individuals who are struggling to take the necessary steps to advance their career or make a significant change in their professional life.

2. Why do people experience "Failure to Launch" in their careers?

There can be a variety of reasons why someone may experience "Failure to Launch" in their career. Some common reasons include fear of failure, lack of confidence, indecisiveness, feeling stuck in a current job, or not knowing where to begin in making a career change.

3. How can "Failure to Launch" Career Advice help me?

"Failure to Launch" Career Advice can provide you with personalized guidance and support to help you identify the root causes of your career struggles and create a plan to overcome them. It can also provide you with resources and tools to improve your job search and interview skills, as well as help you build confidence and motivation in pursuing your career goals.

4. Is "Failure to Launch" Career Advice only for recent graduates?

No, "Failure to Launch" Career Advice can be beneficial for individuals at any stage of their career. It is not limited to recent graduates, but can also be helpful for mid-career professionals or even those looking to make a career change later in life.

5. How long does it take to see results from "Failure to Launch" Career Advice?

The timeline for seeing results from "Failure to Launch" Career Advice can vary depending on individual circumstances and the level of commitment and effort put in. It is important to remember that career development is a continuous process, and results may not be immediate, but with consistent effort and guidance, progress can be made towards achieving your career goals.

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