Do you want to
- strengthen/update your technology skills?
- move into management?
- start your own business?
- move out of technology?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, this might be the perfect time for you to apply to graduate school. According to Crunchbase news, in 2022 and 2023, almost 225,000 employees were let go from technology companies. Yet technology workers are still very much in demand. Companies are seeking software engineers, product designers, ML and AI experts, data scientists, product managers, and sales managers.
You might be committed to a career in technology but would like to lead project teams and need to develop your skills in leadership, negotiation, and communication. Or you are thinking about starting your own company and would benefit from courses in entrepreneurship, finance, and marketing. There are so many good options in graduate education — from an MS in engineering or computer science to a master’s in engineering management, a combination program of a STEM field/MBA, or a PhD.
If you are seeking a research degree — an MS or a PhD – then you will need to demonstrate that you have research experience, either as an undergraduate or at your workplace. Gaining acceptance to a research program requires that you have an excellent academic record and that you have published research or at least have experience with the research process. You will want letters of recommendation from your former professors or someone from work who has a PhD and who has supervised your research. Your recommenders will vouch for your research skills and the probability of your success in a graduate research program. You will also want to clearly state what your research focus will be and your career goal upon graduation.
To select a school and program, start with your end goal. How do you want to make a difference? What work will bring you the greatest satisfaction? Choosing a program should be based on the curriculum that will provide you with the skills you need to gain to achieve your end goal. You also need to decide whether you want to commit one to two years as a full-time student, or whether you prefer to keep working and enroll in an online, part-time program. Other factors to consider are the required qualifications, location, cost, and where the program’s graduates are employed, as well as the career services the school offers to support you in your job search.
For the past eight years, I have worked successfully with STEM clients who have been accepted to highly ranked programs in many engineering fields, data science, computer science, environmental science, and statistics. Applying to graduate school is a process. Consider hiring a consultant to help you evaluate your options, develop a plan, think strategically about your statement of purpose, edit essays, and rework your resume for an academic setting. Ultimately, earning a graduate degree will offer you new and challenging career opportunities.
About the author
With 30 years of career/admissions experience at four universities, including Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Business and College of Engineering, Dr. Karin Ash has met with thousands of recruiters seeking to hire the best students from leading schools. She has served as a member of the admissions committee, ensuring that the applicants who ultimately enroll are a good fit for the program and prime candidates for employers. Karin has been a Consultant with Accepted for 8 years and has facilitated students’ entry into top engineering, data science, MBA, and other STEM graduate MEng, MS, and PhD programs. Her clients have been accepted into MIT, the University of Chicago, Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, UPenn, and USC.