Real-World Graduate Education

Earlier in the summer, I conducted an interview with my supervisor, one of the requirements of the Career Center’s Internship Notation Program, which I am happily completing in accordance with the rules of the internship grant program that allowed me to come out to Berkeley for this great, albeit unpaid, experience.

One of the most influencing pieces of advice that my supervisor gave to me was NOT to go to journalism grad school.

Now this was a surprise. Grad school is such a standard these days, and my undergraduate degree is in American Studies. Earning a graduate degree in journalism might seem like a no-brainer next step for me after graduating from Dickinson.

However, my supervisor, who herself went to graduate school for journalism, actually regrets it. She felt that she had spent a lot of money for skills that she could have learned just as easily outside of an educational environment. Take that money that you would have spent on graduate school, she suggested, and use it to support yourself while you gain practical experience in low-paid or unpaid internships and jobs.

This strategy is both terrifying and exciting. At least while in an educational institution, I can always delude myself into thinking I am going to easily get a great job after graduation. Hitting the real world means that I could put in a lot of work and all the while, feel like I am never getting anywhere. It would definitely require some gumption, hard work, and perseverance.

Still, I am a little tired of living inside of an educational bubble. I love all of the broad, theoretical thinking and the debates over important issues often deemed impractical after leaving college, don’t get me wrong. I also feel like I am becoming ignorant about specific applications of this thinking and also too accustomed to a certain style of presentation. For example, the other day, while researching article ideas for a special issue on parenting, I mentioned to my supervisor that it was a really broad topic and I was having trouble tying it all together. To which I got something along the lines of, “Good thing it’s not an academic paper then” (except of course, in much nicer terms).

So here’s to actually learning how to cook because I’ll have no money to spend on eating out after graduation. Here’s to exploring the depths of Spotify while scouring the internet furiously for internship, job, and freelance writing possibilities. And here’s to toughening up and avoiding the educational bubble I’ve been living in too long.

But worst comes to worst, I’ll just pack up and get cheap graduate education in Germany. So there’s no way life after Dickinson will be too bad!

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