Posts Tagged ‘Labour economics’

By Maro Onokpise

The dilemma that faces most undergraduates as they finish up their degrees is the decision to pursue higher education or get their careers started. There are obvious pros and cons to each path, but ultimately the decision is up to the individual.

After I completed my undergraduate degree, I was fortunate enough to land a great job with the The Gap Company.  When things didn’t work out, I tried my hand at graduate school until I could figure out exactly what it is I wanted to do.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re debating whether to go on to grad school or jump in to the real world and find a full time job, there a few things to keep in mind as you make your decision. Keep the following in mind as you weigh your options.

Graduate School


Most people who favor going on to grad school typically recommend doing so right after you complete your Bachelors degree.  One of the primary reasons being that you are still in “school mode”.  You don’t have as many commitments and you can devote your time to your studies.

Given the fact that the economy has hit the 18-24 demographic harder than any other, the option to stay in school has become a more viable option.


The downside to continuing on to graduate school is the possibility of accumulating more student loans.  In the past, we were always taught to go to school, earn your degree and you’ll have a job waiting for you.  The reality is that is happening anymore.  Graduates are saddle with more debt and student loans than ever before.

Full Time Career


One of the biggest pros for waiting to go back to school is that real world experiences can teach you things that you could never learn in a classroom.  You have a better perspective on you can use your degree.  If you graduated with the wrong degree, you can find ways to couple your experiences and your education to put you in a better situation to a get job that’s better suited for you.

RelatedWhat to do if You Graduated With The Wrong Degree?

Additionally, as you are beginning your career, you are making connections that you would not have made if you were still in school.  These are connections that could help you down the road as you try to find job opportunities in a very competitive job market.


The further out you push going back to school, the less of a likelihood that you will ever go back.  You may be well intentioned, and you may genuinely have a desire to go back to school, but life happens.  You may find that you love your career so much that it becomes difficult to leave.  You may have a family which  could make it difficult to relocate to another city for a university that offers your desired program.  You may also just be so far removed from academia that it’s just something that doesn’t appeal to you any longer.

There are certainly drawbacks and benefits to either option.  I am huge proponent of higher education.  However I say that with that caveat that college isn’t for everyone and graduate school is even less so.  Weigh your options and do what’s best for you and your future.


by John Lees
Taken from the Harvard Business Review

John Lee's

Article by John Lees

An estimated 12% of all humans who have ever lived are alive today. This slice of humanity has more life choices available to it than any previous generation. Four generations ago, the average European worker had about five-to-ten obvious occupations to choose from. Today we have tens of thousands of choices, but we don’t have the thinking tools to match.

The idea that people should match themselves against jobs is relatively new, and mostly based on military recruitment. However Frank Parsons — an engineer, lawyer, and early champion of what was then called “vocational guidance” — argued in 1908 that there are three steps to selecting a career path:

  1. A clear understanding of our “aptitudes, abilities, interests, resources, limitations, and other qualities.”
  2. A knowledge of the “requirements and conditions of success, advantages and disadvantages, compensations, opportunities, and prospects in different lines of work.”
  3. “True reasoning of the relations of these two groups of facts.”

Parsons’ phrase “true reasoning” is interestingly opaque — something that speaks to us of the late Victorian mindset, the optimism that any problem can be solved if, like Sherlock Holmes, we weigh up the evidence with our rational minds. Yet, as we will discover, logical thinking is only modestly helpful when it comes to choosing a career. I am interested in how we actually make those choices, because they matter. Twenty years ago we had time to experiment with a range of work and lifestyle options. Today, the rising burden of student debt and the tightening of economies means we have to choose earlier.

We start by looking for jobs that resemble activities you enjoyed in school, whether this involves writing papers or handling test-tubes. You look for a sector that will be like something you have already enjoyed or shown some talent for. This approach fails to alert us to the thousands of sectors available, and fails to show us that there are few people practicing “pure” geography, history or mathematics in the world.

We don’t face occupational choices as a blank slate. There are powerful influences: parental jobs and expectations, peer pressure, the media, jobs we see as children (if you spend a lot of time in hospital chances are you will want to work in healthcare). High status occupations hold great sway, so top graduates still aim towards medicine, accountancy or law. We are shown a tiny, biased selection of jobs in TV and film (when was the last time you saw an order picker or a quantity surveyor working on TV?). We believe we are making informed choices but in fact most of us are sampling through half-closed eyelids, even mid-career. We need to build better maps.

David and Fiona, two recent clients (names altered), are good examples of two different approaches to career-focused decisions. Both clients were kind enough to run their decision process past me in slow motion. David has just taken a job offer he is uncertain about, while Fiona is partway through a very different process:

David: Making a Routine Career Change

  • I feel trapped in job without any choices.
  • I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a limited picture of what is out there.
  • I waste time trying to think about plusses and minuses, picking ideas up and then dropping them again when something puts me off.
  • I have a broad, slightly undefined range of options in mind.
  • Something comes along which is a rough match for one of these options, so I decide to take it.

Fiona: Running a Controlled Experiment

  • I feel trapped in my current role but I do what I can to fix the job I’m in before I turn to the job market.
  • I start a conscious program of mapping, finding out what’s out there without worrying too much about whether it’s an exact fit.
  • I put research before job search. I keep asking questions, keep meeting interesting people.
  • I develop a very good map of what’s out there. I develop a range of well-researched options, so I know what I am looking at and I know how to get there.
  • I meet interesting people and they remember me.
  • I match job offers carefully to ensure that I get at least 6 out of 10 from my wish list before choosing one.

These two processes are not just about different thought processes, but about mapping opportunities, gaining confidence, and making lateral connections.

My advice for anyone caught in career choice dilemma is this: stop trying to decide. We believe we’re choosing thoughtfully but mostly we just go round in circles, shooting down ideas one after another. Put your energy into idea-building. Imagine you were doing research for someone else — keep digging, keep making connections.

All work is a compromise between your longings and what someone else needs. We all need to think differently about the way we choose career paths, and learn to find the “almost exactly right” job, not just the next thing that comes along.

Personal BrandBy Greg Johnson,

In our current job market and economic climate, one of the most sought after yet difficult to attain aspects of our career is job security. With the average tenure at corporate positions, especially the more senior ones lasting an average of two and a half to three years, where can we get our security? The answer lies in our personal branding. It is through Personal Brand Equity that we can establish our value to employers past, present and future. However, where does our brand equity come from? Often times at networking events, I ask people what they do, and they respond by telling me their function, or possibly defining themselves by the tasks or processes they do at work. The problem is that this does nothing to indicate how well they do those tasks and processes, and it does nothing to differentiate them from everyone else who performs the same tasks and processes. When developing our personal brand identity, it is very important to understand that each of us has a unique shape that is a blend of skills, education, experiences and passions. It is through these that, in the process of doing tasks and processes for a company, we achieve accomplishments that contribute to the bottom line of an organization’s success. Over the next few weeks, I will be writing several blogs illustrating how to identify this blend of attributes and the accomplishments achieved throughout a career. Once you have this foundation of your personal brand, we will explore how to use this information to articulate your value proposition throughout your career management.

via Personal Brand Identity and Career Management « Above The Rim Executive Coaching.