Overcoming the myths of Graduate School

Hi I’m Lindsay! I am a current graduate student in the Master of Accountancy program here at Georgia College and I also work as a graduate assistant for the Career Center.  In my free time I like to run, so there is a good chance you’ve seen me running around Milledgeville.  I’m still figuring out my way through grad school, but I have already learned so much through my transition from undergrad to grad school. I want to help you so that you can learn from my mistakes and know what to expect when you start preparing for this next step! Here are some common myths about grad school and my opinion on the truth of what it really is like.

Myth: Grad school is just like undergrad except more work.

Truth: Grad school is not necessarily more work, but more quality.  Grad professors expect their students to go the extra step and show that they understand the topics both in theory and practice.  They are not looking to give you large amounts of busy work, rather the professors strive to help you fully understand concepts and they expect more depth and critical thinking in your responses.  The complexity in the material you study will increase.  Keep in mind that grad school is not for everybody, and that is perfectly okay.  It may be helpful to research getting a higher degree and decide if this is something you want to invest yourself in. Determine if a graduate degree will actually help you get a better job or required for a specific job.  If you are aware of what to expect, in the right mind frame to pursue graduate school, and prepared for the changes from undergrad, you will be more able to tackle grad school from the get go.

Myth: Grad school is too expensive; I can’t afford it.

Truth: There are many options that can help in making graduate school affordable.  Graduate assistantships, for example, can help to cover your tuition and most schools, including Georgia College, offer assistantships that simply require you applying in advance for the position.  You may need to be accepted to a program first before you can apply for assistantships. These positions can be found specific to your program or, depending on the school, there may be opportunities outside of your program as well.  For example, I am an Accounting graduate student but I work in the Career Center department for 20 hours per week. Working here allows me to expand my network, use/develop different skill sets, and make money to pay for other expenses. Assistantship compensation can vary based on the position and university, but can include a stipend, tuition, fees, and sometimes, even more.  Also, an assistantship is  great way to work while going to grad school and gain skills/experience for resume.    Another helpful option is scholarships; some may believe these are only for undergrad, but that is not the case. There are plenty of scholarships still out there for aspiring grad students, but it may take some digging on your part. Scholarship websites like fastweb.com, awards offered through the university or your specific graduate program,  professional associations, or private companies or foundations may be great places to start. Finally, learn how to budget your money.  I have come to realize the hard way that this is one of the most important things you can do as a graduate student.  Live like you are a graduate student, meaning that you should not eat out every day and spend your monthly allowance in a weekend downtown.  I personally can relate to the struggle that comes with trying to balance your own funds, but try to save as much as you can because you never know when you’re going to need to buy another book for class or some other unexpected expense.  Student loans are also an option that many grad students partake in.  I would encourage you to try to take the least amount of loans as you possibly can and I would use this option as a last resort.

You can learn more about what a graduate assistantship entails and the requirements to apply for one, specific to Georgia College, at: http://www.gcsu.edu/financialaid/graduate-assistantships

Myth: I balanced undergrad so I can balance graduate school.

Truth: It is difficult to find a balance as a student period; this will be even truer as a graduate student.  However, you can balance graduate school.  It is going to take some effort to stay balanced. Keeping organized and staying that way play such a key role as a grad student.  Many students in grad school are on a job search, have a job/assistantship, have group projects, student organizations, and also have challenging studies. Having an agenda and planning ahead is so important in helping you maintain a low stress level.  In undergraduate you may have found yourself able to have those back burner classes where you were able to “cruise by”.  These classes usually do not exist in grad school, so try to keep a hardworking attitude in every area of your life.  In many cases, you may not be able to get below a B in a course without jeopardizing your academic standing with the graduate program, so you will definitely have to give a great deal of energy and commitment in order to meet the high expectations. Also, if you can learn how to tell people no, it will become one of your greatest assets. You will quickly realize that you can’t always do it all, so pick your priorities and make sure you stick with them.  If you prioritize your goals and continue to stay focused on obtaining them, I believe you will have a lot of success as a grad student.

Myth: I don’t need to look for a job yet because I’m still in school and they will find me.

Truth: Start looking for jobs as soon as your graduate program starts; take initiative.  Yes, your teachers may help you with networking (meeting people who might be able to help you get a job now or later) and yes, you have a busy schedule during school, but do not let this stop you from researching on your own the different job opportunities that interest you. A common misconception is that your major equals your career.  While you may find it more beneficial to start a career related to your major, you are not limited to that area and do not be afraid to expand your career search into different industries. Make sure to keep your options open; just because a business does not recruit at your current school does not mean that you cannot pursue a job with them.  If you stay persistent and reach out to jobs you are interested in, you have a better chance of widening your opportunities. Do not think that just because you are getting a Master’s degree that you will automatically be hired. Graduate school does not guarantee you a job so put some work into your job search!  Of course, the Career Center is a great resource to help you plan.

A resource for increasing your network during your job search is the Georgia College Alumni group on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/131199/profile
I hope that these tips can give you some realistic expectations as you prepare for grad school.  Grad school is a great opportunity and, if you enter into it with the right attitude and expectations, you will be ahead of the game.  Good luck!!

-Lindsay

 

Collaborating with your Mind and Heart to Find a Passion

What would you want to pursue if there were no restraints put on you?

That is one of the questions you should ask when trying to figure out what you would like to do in life. The pursuit of finding your passion can happen at any time in your life, but everyone should really start that search in college. One of the first things that probably went through your head when thinking about starting college is what should be your major. This also probably led you to think about possible careers. Most likely, you had an idea about what career you would like to pursue, but thought to yourself, “is this career really my passion? Will I enjoy it for the rest of my life?”  As time goes on, you will want to pick a career that is a passion for you so that you will look forward to going to work every day and not dread it.

Did you know that there is a myth that says what you major  in college determines what your career is after you graduate? This is one of the reasons why finding your passion can be difficult. If you thought about that for awhile, you could probably think of several people you know that what they studied in college might have little to do what they actually do in their career. Let’s take for example students who major in History. Most people think that the only job for History majors is teaching. But, according to the GC Alumni page on LinkedIn, recent graduates that majored in History are actually pursuing careers in Business like Sales and Operations. Interestingly, the graduates in Business careers actually make up more of a percentage than those that chose to pursue a career in Education.  About 5% of History majors even opened their own businesses pursuing entrepreneurial career paths! How is this possible? It is possible because they transfer and apply all the skills they learned from their entire liberal arts education including those skills gained by studying history.   Check out the “What Can I Do With This Major?” resource for ideas of the numerous career paths available to every major. So, if you are having a difficult time trying to find a career that uses your major or worried that picking a specific major that you know you’d love won’t help you get a job because you assume that each major only has one or two career options, try thinking about how the skills you learn in that major can transfer to any career that you would enjoy. Transferable skills, like time management, critical thinking, research, teamwork, communication, or organization transfer to any career.

Another thing to remember is that careers change. The average American worker will change jobs up to 11 times and careers 2-4 times throughout their working life. The chances of you picking a major/career now and having to do it for the “rest of your life” is actually quite slim.

Need help figuring it all out? What careers and majors are out there? Here at the Career Center, we utilize a tool called Focus 2 that can help you start thinking about what your values and interests  and how they correlate with Georgia College majors and future careers. The Focus2 consists of 5 career assessments that help you better understand yourself and possible majors/careers that you might like. After taking the Focus 2, you can discuss your results and next steps with a professional career coach at the Career Center. You can make an appointment over the phone or by coming in to our office located in Lanier Hall 110.

I know it can be frustrating sometimes when you don’t know what you like to do and then having to decide on a major and eventually a career. Finding your passion does not happen overnight, so give yourself time to explore every possibility. Your dream job may end up being one that you’ve never heard of before!  But, whatever you decide to study or do for work, make sure you enjoy it! After all, this is your life; live it the way you want.

Bobcat Career Spotlight- Sarah Mccullough

Name

Sarah Mccullough

Year

Junior

Major

Community Health

Hometown

Fayetteville, GA

When do you expect to graduate from GC?

May 2017

How did the career center help you succeed?

The Career Center helped me completely revise my resume which landed me a great job!

What advice do you have for students?

Go take advantage of the Career Center. They are super helpful and it helps you be less stressed!

 

Bobcat Career Spotlight- Katelyn Sutton

Congrats Katelyn! We’re excited for you. 

Name

Katelyn Sutton

Year

Senior

Major

Psychology

Hometown

Macon, GA

When do you expect to graduate from GC?

May 2016

How did the career center help you succeed?

The Career Center prepared me for the graduate school admission process by reviewing my curriculum vitae (CV), personal statements, and by practicing potential interview questions with me. With the Career Center’s help, I felt prepared for graduate school interviews and was accepted into Northwestern University in Chicago where I will be obtaining my Masters in Science in Marriage and Family Therapy.

 

What advice do you have for students?

My career advice for other GC students would be to gain experience in your field through internships and volunteering opportunities as early as possible.

 

Preparing for Career Expo – 4 Easy Tips

Hello Bobcats! I hope you all have been taking advantage of our events so far, like Internship Week and Resume Review Day!

We have another big event coming up that we are very excited about. It’s the  Career Expo on March7th! It is open to all grade levels and majors, and will be hosted in the Magnolia Ballroom. There will be over 50 companies and employers looking to hire GC students for full-time, part-time, and internship opportunities. Career Expo is the largest campus career fair of the year! The complete list of employers can be found on Career Connection under our events schedule. If there is an employer you are particularly interested in, you might be able to interview with them during the second-half of this event! You won’t want to miss this event; it is a wonderful opportunity to network and to give your career path a boost!

Never been to a Career Expo before? Not sure how to prepare for the upcoming Career Expo? No worries! On March 2nd we will be hosting a Career Expo Boot Camp in A&S 155 at 5:30PM to help you prepare and knock the Career Expo out of the park! Mark your calendars for the Boot Camp, but in the meantime, here are 4 Easy Tips to review as you prepare:

  1. Review the list of employers on Career Connection so you can update and cater your resume accordingly. You will want to bring plenty of copies of your resume to pass out to employers as you network. The best way to do this at the Expo or any Career Fair is to have a padfolio to keep your resume and other materials handy, such as your business card to pass out or a notepad to take notes! Need your resume reviewed? Come see us today, February 29th for our Resume Review Day. You don’t need an appointment! Just your resume and a smile!
  2. What does networking even mean anyway? The best way to learn how to network is practice! Before the Expo, you will want to rehearse your elevator pitch, or introduction. Your elevator pitch should be about 30 seconds, and explain who you are, a little about your background or your passion, and what you hope to pursue. This is the perfect introduction as you walk up to employers and get the conversation started to network effectively. Still a little unsure about to practice your elevator pitch? Check out this cool video for some further direction and examples!
  3. Dress for success! This is the fun part, who doesn’t love to dress up? Ladies, this means you have the option of a pant suit, skirt suit, or dress with a blazer. Nothing should be too tight, and skirts/dresses should be finger-tip length. Also, make sure your blouse or shirt is not low-cut and wear heels of appropriate height. Fellas, this means you have the option of dress pants, a dress shirt, sport coat, tie, belt, and dress shoes. Please note that boat shoes do NOT equal dress shoes and your socks should match the color of your pants. We recommend a tie to make a more professional first impression. Have fun mixing and matching with the pieces you already have in your closet! If you are not sure about a piece or an outfit, feel free to take a pic and come show us at the Career Center at Lanier 110! We are happy to give you feedback to help make sure you look flawless!
  4. During the event, as you meet different employers and pass out your resume, don’t forget to ask them for a business card or their contact info. This will allow you to follow-up with them after the event with an email, thanking them for coming and taking the time to talk to you. In this follow-up email, you should also attach an additional electronic copy of your resume. This is the perfect way to make another memorable, professional impression. You’ll also want to apply online if the employer instructed you to do so.

At this point, you have rocked the Career Expo Event! You did your research [check], you updated your resume [check], you had a fluent elevator pitch [check], you looked like a boss [check], and you have sent a professional follow-up [check]. Sit back, relax, and just wait for those call backs!:)

Bobcat Career Spotlight – Joshua Braumuller

Name

Joshua Braumuller

Year

Senior

Major

Criminal Justice

Hometown

Tyrone, GA

When do you expect to graduate from GC?

May 2016

How did the Career Center help you succeed?

The Career Center helped me put the finishing touches on my resume and helped me write a cover letter. They also proofread both to ensure I did not have any spelling errors. I got the job!

What advice do you have for students?

Three pieces of advice I would give students: do not wait until you graduate to look for jobs; always do a cover letter; and go to the Career Center.

Do you want to be an Intern?

*Sung to the tune of “Do you want to build a snowman?”

anna

So, have you heard all the hype about internships?

  • Maybe your parents or professor is encouraging (or forcing) you to do one.
  • Maybe you know you should do one, because you’ve heard employers in your field think they are valuable.
  • Maybe you think you can’t do one right now, because you’re not a senior.
  • Or, maybe you’re not so sure what an internship is, don’t know when you will fit into your schedule, or even afford to do one.

It’s a lot. I get it. But internship are pretty cool and you can do them throughout your time in college, actually we recommend you start early and do a couple!

Here are 5 reasons why I think you should consider doing an Internship.

  1. EXPERIENCE

An internship is going to give you real-world, work experience.  You will see what it’s like to get up every day and go to work, deal with a supervisor, be assigned and complete projects, work with others, and so much more!  This is valuable resume material that will make you stand out!

  1. SKILLS

Friendly, Outgoing, and Sweet should not be the skills you list on your resume.  Employers want to see the hard skills that you have developed.  Internships are a great way to gain those skills.  Did you create social media marketing campaigns on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook?  What about completing market research with SPSS?  Did you use a Tax Pro System in your accounting internship?  These are the types of skills employers want to see.

  1. NETWORK

So you know Georgia College.  You have your friends, professors, Thunder, and a handful of staff members that you see every day, but do you know anybody doing what you want to be doing?  An internship is going to put you in the middle of the industry you are interested in.  You can talk to these coworkers, take them out for coffee, pick their brains, get advice, make connections.  You often hear the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” which I believe to a certain extent.  Obviously you need to be smart and skilled in the field you want to work in, but you also need to know people in the field.  Put effort into both areas. Let’s change the saying to “It’s what you know and who you know.”

  1. CONFIDENCE
    It’s pretty scary to think about graduating and getting a job. I mean, who is going to hire a recent English graduate anyway?

Well if you are a recent English graduate that completed an awesome internship, gained real work experience, increased necessary skill sets, met an awesome network of people in the field, and took advantage of the GC Career Center’s services, than a lot of employers are going to want to hire you! You are awesome!

  1. GET A GOOD JOB
    The great thing about internships is you get to test drive a career for a specified time frame. You can determine what you find most valuable in a work environment; do you like a big office with a lot co-workers or would you rather work in a smaller setting with fewer people, do you like big cities or smaller towns, do you like supervisors that allow you to work independently or do you need someone that offers extra guidance.  Internships let you see multiple sides of the work world and help you begin to figure out what work atmosphere suites you best.  That way when you begin your job search you can apply to and get a good job that you enjoy!

Ready to take the next step and learn more about finding great internships? Or, are you not yet sold on the idea and need a little bit more convincing?  Either way, the Career Center is here for you!  Stop by, call, or email us to set up an appointment to talk internships!

The Career Center | 110 Lanier Hall | 478-445-5384 | career.center@gcsu.edu