So you’ve been considering graduate school to jumpstart your career or get that promotion you’ve been eyeballing. Before making the leap, consider creating a grad school career development plan.
Grad School Career Development Plan in 4 Steps
1. Decide what you want to be when you grow up.
The best career advice anybody could give you is “do what you love and the money will come.” While salary should be part of the equation, being stuck in a high paying job that you hate won’t make you happy in the long run. So before you invest the time and money in a graduate school degree, imagine spending the rest of your working life in the career you’re considering. If you don’t see yourself loving it, think again.
2. Find out what you're best at.
So you thought long and hard, and your heart tells you to save the world by discovering the next big miracle drug. Good for you. But, then again, you were never the best at math or science. While following your heart is always the place to start, balance your heart by following your natural born skills and talents. Few people are great at everything. So find out what you’re best at—or maybe you already know.
3. Consider salary and lifestyle goals.
Doing what you love and what you’re best at may not make you rich. And you have to be okay with that. Maybe it’s time to reconsider a lifestyle change. You might not be able to afford that new convertible or the 4 bedroom bungalow in the ‘burbs you’ve always dreamed of. Or maybe you can afford more to liver larger than you thought. Long story short — make sure the investment you make in graduate school has a realistic return in salary. That doesn’t mean you have to pay student loans off in a year, but do you really want to be paying off student loans instead of building your retirement nest egg? Check out this Salary Calculator to help make your grad school investment decision.
4. Find the right graduate school program.
Do what I love. Check. Know what I’m best at. Check. Salary. Check. The next and most important step in your grad school development plan is finding the right college or university to get your graduate degree. Like most things in life, all graduate programs are not created equal. Balancing cost, location and the program that fits your life can be a daunting choice. Should you get an Executive MBA after work and on weekends, balancing school and your career? Or should you earn your degree online? Or do you know you learn best interacting face-to-face? Only you can answer that. But if you need a little help in choosing the right graduate school program, the U.S. News & World Report is a good place to start.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette has 44 graduate degree options to choose from.