Go to Grad School or Get a Job?

Question from a follower:

Should I go straight to graduate school or get some work experience?

My response:

A downside of academia is that students typically only have access to open source tools to learn about a limited scope of data sets, malware samples, attacks, defense, prevention strategies, etc. Meanwhile, companies are looking for people with commercial tool capabilities. Formal education provides much needed foundation technical knowledge and the opportunity to build important soft skills, but practical experience is the best teacher.

Additionally, a hands-on background is often more appealing than theoretical knowledge, especially when you’re interviewing for highly technical roles. This is why you typically see job descriptions asking for a combo of education and past exposure. Both are important in the knowledge economy.

Further, work experience enables you to nurture professional relationships while building a results oriented resume. More importantly, companies that value their talent typically offer tuition reimbursement. As such, a corporate sponsored full or partially funded education is a better opportunity both professionally and financially.

Save your coins.

If you’re up for the challenge, you can pursue both simultaneously. I worked FT through my degrees and certifications. On the job training helped me to be a better student and being a student helped me be a better employee. My hair fell out, but I survived.

Working through school is not for the faint of heart, but it is an option.

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