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The difference a Masters really makes

What is the point of a Masters degree? It’s a lot of work, a lot of expense, a lot of effort and a lot of sleepless nights - you want to be sure you’re going to benefit at the end. Research by QS involving more than 450 international employers shows the difference in salary between an employee with a first degree and a graduate qualification can be as much as 71%. Nunzio Quacquarelli, Managing Director of QS says: “During the last five years or so there has been a fundamental shift in attitude on the part of recruiters to encourage candidates with more qualifications to apply for positions in their companies. Global employers now use graduate degrees as key points of differentiation between candidates seeking employment.”

With almost every industry giving more prominence to niche, specialised knowledge, a Masters degree has become essential for one’s professional capacity. “In fact, in some specialized areas where technical skills are particularly significant, the benefit of a Masters degree can also outweigh that of up to four years work experience,” says Quacquarelli.

So whether it is updating your skill set, or securing that job you’ve always wanted with lucrative benefits, more and more graduates worldwide are finding that a Masters degree is like the icing on the cake as far as your CV is concerned. It’s a stamp of creditability, reliability, and efficiency, and can facilitate a rapid and significant upswing in one’s professional career development.

The employer’s point of view

Steve Icampo, Manager of Worldwide Staffing at Amphenol Corporation, sounds a note of caution for those who believe a Masters will be a passport for future success. “You should not assume that education will get you to where you want to go; what will get you there is you.” Icampo says anyone contemplating studying for a Masters should be armed with two things.

Firstly, work experience. “I would hope that candidates have worked a bit before they make a decision,” says Icampo. “The further you go with education, the more specialised you become – so you really need to make sure that the course is for you. You need to think it through very carefully before you undertake the course. I have seen young people make mistakes, and that can be really discouraging for them. A Masters is a major investment and it will determine how you will be perceived in the market place.” Icampo says candidates should use their time in work to plan for the future and to work out where they want to be in years to come - that will make it easier to choose the right course to achieve those goals.

The second thing Icampo believes potential graduate students should have before they make their course choice is passion for their subject. “You have to follow your passion. If you’re not passionate about what you are doing, you shouldn’t do it.” Amphenol is a S&P 500 company involved in making connectors and inter connectors for high speed data. The company is the second largest maker of connectors and has 85 facilities in 30 countries.

Hannes Vedin is HR Senior Consultant for Capgemini Sweden. Over 75% of the company have a Masters degree and 7% a PhD. “There is a big difference between a bachelors and a Masters. I find, and I don’t know why, that people with a Masters have much more maturity in their work. It is much easier for them to use their knowledge and to switch their knowledge into practice.” Vedin says he has noticed a big difference in the quality of the Masters around Europe thanks to the Bologna Accord. Capgemini Sweden is involved as a consultant company with IT and management and the company recruits through networking, contacts, searching databases, ads on the internet and their website.
“The Masters definitely gives you an advantage but we are also interested in finding the people who have the right ambition and the right attitude – as these can be just as important as the Masters qualification,” he says.

The student’s point of view

The QS Top Grad School.com masters and PHD applicant survey 2009 questioned the study motivations of over 3,000 candidates, asking them what they expected to get out of a graduate degree. Over 70% said they wanted to undertake further study as it would help to improve their employment prospects. It seems that prospective postgraduate candidates believe they will not only land a better job, but progress faster up the career ladder with a master’s degree.

Konstantina Papadopoulou holds a Masters degree in Human resources from Warwick University (UK). For her, a Masters degree “opens many doors work wise as more and more organizations are now looking to recruit individuals with expert knowledge”. Stephanie Chow, a Masters student at Columbia University in New York fully agree with this statement and adds “Masters degrees have also become a standard. Most people now possess a bachelors degree, so a graduate degree is a leg up”. Stephanie has acquired a number of skills while studying for her Masters; strong analytical thinking, the ability to adapt in a variety of settings 9be it international, cultural, office dynamics0; and an ability to apply theory and other things learned in class to daily life. 2I have also fine-tuned my time management skills and detail oriented nature”,she says. Karol Kaczmarczyk, is studying a Masters in Economics and management of Innovation and Technologies at Bocconi University in Milan. His advice for anyone considering a graduate degree is to know exactly what the course are before choosing a program. “Many students make a choice based on assumptions and find out that it is far from what they expected when it is too late”.

Whether it is updating your skill set, or securing a dream job with lucrative benefits, more and more graduates worldwide are finding that a Masters degree is like the icing on the cake as far as their CV is concerned. It’s a stamp of creditability, reliability, and efficiency, and can facilitate a rapid and significant upswing in one’s professional career development.

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