My intentions are not to make you think that I’m not proud of achieving the accomplishment of obtaining a master’s degree, the process comes with the good as well as the bad. I want to share my experiences and a few of the situations I faced during and after my time in the MBA program. The good – is the feeling of walking across the stage, knowing that you’ve made it through some of the toughest courses, the pats on the back from family and friends, and the possibility of a stable career. The bad – comes when you complete your M.B.A. while you’re unemployed, with no way of paying back your student loans. This is where my regret comes in.
I went into the M.B.A. program a year after getting my bachelor’s degree. I wanted to continue the learning process while I still had a student mindset and I figured it would help me stay competitive in the job market. At that time, I didn’t really know what I wanted to get out of a master’s degree. I knew it would look good on paper, but it never crossed my mind that if I didn’t have the experience to back up a master’s, it would be pointless to list it in the education section of my resume. Throughout my 3 year process in the MBA program, I was employed on and off. I took on many temporary positions from customer service and data entry to market research interviewing and blogging. It was a good way to feel out different career paths, but it came back to bite me in the end. I would advise anyone looking to get an advanced degree to work a stable job or at least be in the beginning stages of a career while pursuing the degree. You definitely don’t want to come out of a graduate program unemployed or with little experience in your desired field.
As graduation became closer in view, I decided it was time to rev up my job search and apply, apply, apply. I wanted to have a decent paying job by the time I graduated, so I could avoid being harassed by the soulless company that is Sallie Mae/Navient. After receiving what seemed like hundreds of rejection emails, I started to get a little desperate and decided to apply for positions that I thought I would be a shoo in for. Yeah, that didn’t work either. I have seven years of customer service experience and even those positions were rejecting me. If I was able to get an interview, managers would look at my resume, see my education level, and immediately ask why I want this type of position. They figure that if I have an advanced degree and a better position comes along, then I’ll leave. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. I completely understand this way of thinking, but it sucks to the person who has bills and student loans looming over them.
Please don’t take this post as just another millennial complaint. I don’t fully regret the process. I am proud of the way I pushed myself, the lessons I learned, and the hard work I put in. But of course there are things I wish I could go back and do differently like, acquiring relevant experience, finding a mentor who had been through the process, or being more proactive in finding a career. I would’ve also considered what the master’s degree process entailed before I racked up over $100k in student loans. The silver lining in this is that I leaned on hope and faith throughout the entire MBA process, and I will continue to do so. The road has not been easy, but I have faith that a career (one that I love) will come. I will not always live in my parents’ house and one day I will be able to say “I paid Sallie Mae back.” Oh how I look forward to uttering those words.