Focus on the quality of your education, not the quantity of degrees you rack up.
Hello, I have a B.F.A. in Photography and I am pursuing a Master’s in Arts Technology. The master’s is in a different department than I received my bachelor’s. I was recently told that career changers sometimes only end up in the bottom of the food chain and to consider a second bachelor’s in Graphic Design with the Master’s degree. I am concerned about the mega amount of debt that this would mean for me. Am I better off pursing graphic design or should I still try to pursue a web design career?
I’ll be honest: throwing around all these degrees and departments is making my head spin! First things first, block out all those voices. Everyone (your college advisors, parents, spouse, pet…you get my drift) is going to have an opinion. They’re entitled to their opinions but it’s your life! Sit down and think hard: what do YOU want to do? What makes you happy? What seems most realistic for you to spend the next few decades doing? Once you answer this question, you can move forward.
I can speak about this from personal experience. When I’d wrapped up my business degree and then applied for a design program the following year, so many people questioned why. “Why would you do that? You already have a degree!” And, “Your design program is for a two-year degree. You already have a four-year degree. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Trust me, I heard it all. It wasn’t about the prestige, though. I didn’t need two four-year degrees. I didn’t care if my diploma had a fancy name splashed across it. What I did care about was learning as much as I possibly could in the shortest amount of time while accumulating the least amount of debt.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Some of those big name schools are worth every penny. They have the prestige, the big name teachers, the best equipment and the most beautiful campuses. But realistically, very few of us can afford them (and I’m one of those people who would be stressed out constantly by bone-crushing debt). I promise you that if you put in the time, work harder than anyone else, show up on time and reach out for internships as soon as you can, you can attend community college and get just as far.
While the technical skills you learn in school are really important and provide you with a strong foundation to build off of, the internships are often your golden ticket to employment. Even if you don’t get hired from your internship you’re bound to make career-long connections that will help you as you progress. And that real world experience you gain from internships is priceless.
Remember, to employers in creative fields it doesn’t matter how much you spent on school or how many advanced degrees you have. They want to know that you can do the job you say you can do, do it quickly and do it well. They really want to see your portfolio and your references. Your portfolio speaks volumes about your skill level and versatility. No matter where you decide to go to school or what degree you think is the best, focus on your portfolio and gaining internships.
In closing, the answer in this situation is whatever you want it to be. Instead of focusing on degrees and titles, focus on what you want. Focus on what makes you feel fulfilled. Another degree won’t make you happy but the career you can gain from the skills you learn will.
Readers: Have you been at this crossroads? How did you decide which path to take in your schooling and career?