Should you suit up or study on?

Should I study or work?

There’s no doubt further education is a great feather to have in your cap and in many careers it's actually essential. While learning is a skill that should be fostered throughout life, knowing when to pull the pin on organised study is also a must-have ability – albeit not always an easy one to master.

So, if you can’t tell the difference between a required post-graduate degree and the road to becoming an eternal student, here’s what to do:

Post graduate goals 

Your first step is to figure out what you’d like to be doing when you graduate. Do you have dream role in mind or dream about working for a particular firm? What qualifications do they require? If your ideal employer is more interested in experience beyond university, maybe it’s worth getting a job for now and considering further study later on.

Is experience more important than a degree? 

This really depends on the employer. Some companies rarely consider applications from graduates with no work experience and even then this may need to be the right kind of work experience. Not all firms will have the same expectations of their graduates and certain types of work experience may be considered more valuable than others, so it’s worth doing your research.

Previous experience 

Employers really want to know what you have been up to while you are at university, beyond getting good grades. Some are even more interested in this than in post-graduate qualifications. With this in mind, focus on building up your extra-curricular experience – get involved with clubs and societies on campus or volunteer your time with local community groups.

Don't be scared of the real world

Don’t fall into the trap of becoming a perpetual student, taking course after course just because you’re used to the sheltered world of academia. There is a life after study – make sure you live it!

A happy medium

Consider this: get a job in your chosen field and then complete your post-graduate course part-time in the evenings. It may not work for everyone, but it can be a good way to earn some valuable work experience while you get that edge over your competition. The job you take may not be the role of your dreams, but that’s OK – it’s a step closer to making them a reality.

Still unsure if you should work or study? Here's some tips:

  • Have a plan
  • Build your work experience while at university
  • Consider upgrading your qualifications at night
  • Volunteer and join societies to build up experience
  • Know where you want to go and work backwards


CPA Career Mentor


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