Back to School? Again?

12.13.20102 Min Read — In Career

As many of you know, I have been pretty hesitant to go back to school. It’s been nearly two years since I’ve had a traditional paycheck. This is not to imply that Georgetown University was not a lot of work (indeed it was) or that I do not appreciate fellowship / GI Bill stipends (indeed I do). It is just that I have recently been getting uneasy about my resume. Since leaving the Army, my resume bullet points have been largely academic and research-oriented, rather than being related to hard skills or a specific career track. This imbalance of education over experience is something that I’d like to fix. I’ve had several folks suggest that I start working in any field (Starbucks, broom pushing, Best Buy, etc.), just to get back on the job market. In fact, I know several people that have done this (one working fast food and one working retail). In my mind, this decision is very practical and demonstrates character (this guy was even willing to push a broom), while also fulfilling one’s inner desire to be financially independent through good and honest work.

My biggest hang-up with going this route simply has to do with my career uncertainties. I would be happy working in a wide variety of capacities, but I would also like to work to discern my profession. Over the past few months, I’ve attempted to find work that would allow me to explore career tracks that interest me while picking up experience and marketable skills. Unfortunately, these opportunities have not been forthcoming.

This is why I’ve been looking at Illinois Tech’s Master of IT & Management program, which appears to be structured around the idea of learning practical IT skills by working with local companies to solve their IT problems. This has several advantages. First, I get to learn the skills that are most directly needed by local companies. Second, I get to use my applied projects to network with the folks that could potentially seek to hire me. Third, I get to build a portfolio of ACTUAL projects for ACTUAL companies. This seems to be the closest I can get to on-the-job training from a university, which is precisely why I’m looking at this program over less-applied ones at the University of Chicago. I’ve still been holding out hope that some company may bite. Today, I applied to a admin position with Google, which I think could help me transition into the technical-side of IT. It will be interesting if I have to pick between a technical graduate program or non-technical experience is a technical company. Ideally, I’d work at Google while completing the program part-time.

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