Category Archives: Study in the US

Will I Find a Job if I Study Abroad?

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The million dollar, most-intelligent question that international students who want to study abroad ask is this: Will I find a job once I graduate from University X? If this were a multiple choice question, the answers would be:

a. Guaranteed Yes.
b. Guaranteed No
c. May be
d. Who knows?

Guaranteed Yes is for students who are studying in a hot and emerging field - cyber-security, for example, or a field with a shortage of talented workers, such as petroleum engineering. If your major is in a discipline where supply exceeds demands, then as an international student you are at a disadvantage over nationals. Employers would hire a US citizen, for example, before hiring an international student. So think carefully about what you want to study, why you want to earn a degree in your given major, and how you will convince a future employer to hire you over others.

Guaranteed No - two factors come into play. First, if a student is studying in a field where there is little to no demand and second, if the communication skills of the student are below par, the chances of finding a job abroad go down significantly. Superior technical skills (such as programming) can overcome to some extent the shortfall in communications, but it will still place the student at a disadvantage. Good communication skills open many doors.

May be - this is a true and realistic answer. If you are pursuing a Bachelor's degree, it takes four years; a Master's takes two years, and a PhD takes four to five years. It is fairly difficult to predict with great accuracy whether you will find a job years down the road. If you maintain a strong academic profile, build your networks, and embrace leadership opportunities while you are in college, your chances are pretty good (assuming your communication skills are good.)

Who knows? is the whole truth. Some students have landed jobs even in a tough economic climate. They were in the right place at the right time. Things worked out for them. Others have struggled.

While we all would like a guarantee in all our investments, whether it is education or the stock market, the world does not operate that way. There are no guarantees, but history and statistics show us that a good education is a worthwhile investment. The returns are impressive. For some it may be quick, for others it may be a little slow, but the returns will surely come.

The real question is: What is the alternative to a good education? Nothing. A good education changes the way you think and the way you view the world. It helps you to become a critical thinker - which means you can look at a problem and see the pros and cons. You become sensitive to your own biases and prejudices. You become a better listener. You make friends who are from backgrounds completely different from yours. You value different cultures and what they have to offer. You understand how to innovate. The benefits of a good education are many. By a good education we don't mean a degree. We mean a student who is willing and eager to learn. Anyone can get a degree, but only few get a good education. And there is always a job waiting for them.

 

Is a PhD worth it?

Is a PhD worth it?  Well, simple answers are no longer popular and therefore a more detailed response is due. The detailed answer is: It depends! It depends on your attitude and aptitude to long hours of hard work, curiosity, frustration, and love for one's discipline.

A PhD in the US is definitely worth it. This is what most people who have earned a PhD in the US will tell you. Faculty (most) are passionate about their discipline and are great mentors. Lab facilities in the U.S. are usually top notch and research is often cutting-edge. US faculty are active in their disciplines and their reputation depends on the careers their PhD students pursue. So, all in all it is a great investment. But if you want to earn a PhD just to earn "more money" it may not be a good idea. The number one question to ask is: Do I love my major or discipline enough to dedicate my lifetime to it? If your answer is yes, you have crossed the first barrier. Here is a great website from Purdue (www.purdue.edu) that answers most questions students considering a PhD have:  http://www.cs.purdue.edu/homes/dec/essay.phd.html