The notion of young women helping other young women in the corporate/business workplace is fantastic. Teaching primarily female students in public relations courses for the last 6+ years, I have seen many fantastic female students never find the kind of mentor they need to help navigate their early careers. So, I am a fan of sites, like MsCareerGirl.com and Brazen Careerist that offer advice and networking for young women.
However, Karen Russell listed a couple articles on “Week’s Best” PR readings that drew my attention, since they questioned the value of an advanced degree: “Over-Qualification: When a Higher Degree Doesn’t Pay” and “Don’t Hire People Who Went to Grad School.”
My response to the first article is re-posted below.
The second, though, is even more troubling and filled with anti-intellectual jargon and generalities that it barely warrants a response. I’m surprised, in a way, that someone as smart as Penelope Trunk could advocate such a crazy position, except that her career is, at least in part, based on fear-mongering and disguising it as helpful advice. Here’s a gem from the article: “Multiple degrees are from people who don’t know themselves, don’t value their time, and are stuck in a rut trying to impress people with academic trophies.”
Ridiculous! The fact that fear and “CYA” is rampant in the business world is the reason why employers don’t make good use of highly-educated workers. Fear is the problem here, not that someone would want to pursue and/or attain more education. Obviously, to blame the person for this is to side with business, which is crazy, like businesses or the corporation as an entity has a heart, soul, or conscience.
My response to the MsCareerGirl piece:
The cautious tone of this piece is warranted, but only because employers are so narrow minded. Why wouldn’t a potential employer want someone with advanced training in a field, which represents higher-order critical thinking skills, deep contemplation, and the like? The days of staying with a single company for a lifetime are over. Therefore, employers don’t have to worry about the MA/MBA-and-out mentality.
The secondary challenge is this kind of thinking, that a higher degree: “will automatically open doors is misguided. At best, you’ll spend money on a degree that will put you smack dab in the middle of the cesspool of overqualified candidates. At worst, you’ll lose several years of your life going back to grad school and end up in that same cesspool.”
Few people smart enough to earn a grad degree would think that some golden door will open at graduation. A graduate degree is not like buying a shovel at Wal-Mart. It requires effort, dedication, skill, etc., which is a far cry from finding oneself in a “cesspool” or considering the degree lost years.
The strain of anti-intellectualism in this piece is unwarranted. Why would anyone (student, employer, etc.) say to themselves, “Hmmm, more education…no, I think I’m fine, no thanks.” The US seems to be one of the few countries that feels it can dumb its way through without ramifications.