Continuing My Education As An Associate
by Hannah Pool
As a soon-to-be college graduate, I thought the hard part was over. I was more than a little naïve when thinking that as soon as I was handed my diploma I would also be handed a job. As many can already guess, that did not happen. What did happen was I moved back home to live with my parents, I became a part-time barista, and a full-time job hunter. For 8 months that was my routine until I was offered a job as an Associate with Golden Source Consultants.
Some have asked, and even I wondered many times during my 8-month hiatus, about continuing my education and getting a masters degree. Whenever posed with this question I felt I never had a good enough answer. It was always along the lines of, I didn’t have any money (i.e. broke recent graduate) or I still did not know what I wanted to do when I grew up. However, the thought was always in the back of my mind. So the question is, why did I decide to choose a job over continuing education? Or rather, why did I choose the Golden Source Consultants Associate Program over continuing education?
Let’s first explore the many benefits of continuing education.
Potential for Higher Salary:
We’ve all read the articles that thoroughly explain the income advantages to earning a higher degree. Not to mention the decline in the unemployment rate among master’s degree holders. According to the NACE 2012 Salary Survey, average starting salaries can fluctuate by more than 20% between master’s degree holders and bachelor’s degree holders. Over a span of 40+ years that salary increase really adds up. But this was not the only way I wanted to analyze the decision.
It is important to understand the time and financial investment it takes to earn a graduate degree. As parents and students alike know, higher education requires more than just pocket change. So evaluating the financial aspect of a graduate degree is very important. Likewise, the time investment, usually at least one to two years, is important to think about. One to two years out of the workforce, one to two years not applying newly gained knowledge, one to two years not gaining ‘practical’ knowledge in the work field. However, as I mentioned before, a graduate degree is an investment. That means the value will remain and grow long after the initial time and money has been spent. That is your opportunity cost. Do you see future value from your present time and money sacrifices? Will a few years and a few dollars now bring you more success later?
My decision didn’t come with a lot of preferences. I didn’t have a specific career path planned out so I didn’t know what kind of degree I wanted to pursue. For many of my friends it was a much easier decision. My roommate received a degree in Actuarial Science and then got a job as an Actuarial Scientist. Similar situations happened with many of my Nursing classmates as well. Preferences come in all shapes and sizes, from career advancement, to skill development, and even to a career change. It’s important to really understand your reasons for attaining an advanced degree and whether the sacrifices are worth the investment.
So here I am, sitting in an office instead of a classroom. What benefits do I see in the GSC Associate Program and why is it right for me?
In some ways I can easily relate the Associate Program to earning a degree. I am continuously learning, just like I would in a classroom. There is no shortage of learning; I have extensive classroom training as well as on-the-job training. Part of GSC’s mission is continuous development and we live it out on a day-to-day basis. I have classmates as well. I’m never alone in learning something new, making mistakes, or brainstorming new ideas. I will definitely agree that two heads are better than one. I also get to graduate! At the end of the year there will be a small ceremony to culminate the end of the program. We will also be training for specific certifications (I’d like to think of the certifications as our GSC diploma). A ceremony like a graduation is beneficial to the continued growth of the GSC team.
If you continue to read more of the blog posts or even scan through the website you will notice a specific ‘vibe’ about GSC. You might see it in the mission statement, the LION Mentality, or the passion exuding from every word Jordan writes about her vision for GSC. The environment is one of integrity. The GSC team strives to be the best and offer the best for each other and their clients. Every team member displays integrity in his or her personal life as well. This is not by accident; each team member was and is specifically chosen and trained to commit to integrity. The work environment is one of the joys of GSC because I know I will never have to contradict my personal values because they align with the values of GSC.
That is my short explanation of my short experience of life after graduating. I know I am not alone in this decision process. The economic environment makes it hard for anyone, no matter how qualified, to find a job after graduating. And the idea of deciding what you want to do for the rest of your life again is daunting. Luckily, this is not a one-or-the-other kind of decision. Online degrees, weekend and evening degrees, and experiential learning programs are all valuable and flexible for different needs. I do plan on obtaining an advanced degree sometime in the future. But I am in no way getting my education ‘out of the way;’ I am simply evaluating an opportunity to continue developing, which will be a decision I make many more times in the future. The nice thing is, graduate school will always be there whenever I am ready, but I know I am still gaining valuable experience in the work force while continuing to learn through the GSC Associate Program.