Work or masters?

Work first then masters (to get work experience)? Or masters then work?

I’ll have had an internship before that (hopefully) and the job I ultimately would like basically requires a masters or more.

Whats the job, out of interest ?

Definately go for work experience first. You’ll want to put in atleast 3-5 years and then go for your masters. You want to have some solid work experience under your belt to get the most out of a masters program.

Ever heard of the expression “over educated and under employed”. Don’t let that happen to you. Do you have an undergrad in ID and would you be getting a masters in ID? I would recomend 5 years of work and make sure the masters is not just more ID. It should at least be in UX or Trans or Desig Management or so e speciality.

Sorry to be a bit slow, but are you saying that you would still reccomend 5 years in ID before concentrating on a specialty? or you would only consider a masters just after graduaton if it were specialty?

I’d recomend 5 years of work first… After that you will know if you really want that masters and what you want it for!

Full disclosure, I am a master’s candidate in graphic design, specializing in UX and Interaction.

Yeah, my BFA was in ID, and I am doing the master’s to refocus and specialize. But mostly I want to teach at the uni level. If you don’t want to teach or do research, stay away from grad school. If you love research, want to teach and actually have, in your hand, several descriptions of advertised dream jobs that require or recommend a masters (I have three printed out on my desk) I say get back to work.

It is correct that the masters is good for research and almost necessary for educational positions later.

There are other reasons as well though. One being that it is much easier to get a green card for the US, the higher you are educated. Another is the opportunity to start your own business out of the secure environment of grad school.
At my school Konstfack in Stockholm, many have done this to great success and Konstfack is helping start ups a lot. You got access to great facilities and model shops, to software and hardware and lots of expertise and experience.
Grad school for me is the most amazing and liberating experience and I am much happier now than I was during my undergrad studies.

Where I absolutely agree with the previous posts, is that you must have a plan and purpose with going to grad school. Otherwise it is a waste of time and money.

I’m going to play devils advocate here - several very solid industrial designers I’ve worked with did an undergraduate AND masters in ID, and started it less than 5 years after graduation.

It was in NC, and in-state, so it was cheap. They couldn’t get the ID jobs they wanted, so they continued to “sharpen their knives” if you will. Now, 9 years later the one’s I knew are in Sr. Positions in Dell, Kodak, HP, and others…

People here say you shouldn’t go back for grad school if you have an ID undergraduate degree - I agree and disagree. While it is possible to pin great work up and improve on your own, but if you can pay for a little structure you might be better motivated in a university environment. It would be very lonely yr honing your skills at home alone

Pursuing speciality interest after some time working is a good move too. Many great designers in the Bay Area have MA’s as diverse as Sociology and Cultural Theory

Why not do both. I would suggest starting work first and getting two years of experience minimum.

That said, it means you have very specific goals in your job search. You want to find a company that is close to where you would like to go to school. You also need to discuss your plans in an interview and make sure that the company not only has a favorable (including financial) policy for continuing education but also has examples of younger employees taking advantage of the policy.

@Tav. I should have qualified my blanketbstatemeny by saying there are exceptions. :wink: the cases you mention sound like very directed individuals. As said, structure helps, as does mentorship.

The previus posters mention having a plan, I feel that having some work experience helps you formulate that plan. I know a very talented, hard working, and passionate designer going back to grad school next year with 10+ years experience. He has worked fir major corporations around the globe. Can you imagine how much he will kick ass in grad school with that experience base!

Timf has an excellent point. Many large corperations will partially pay for grad school! Look into that option.

I would say that would be your first question as an individual. Do you want to be a REALLY good designer for the rest of your career or do you want to be a design professional with more flexibility careerwise. I am still not sold on pairing an ID undergrad with an ID masters. I’m not sure what you really get out of that. If you’re going to get a masters go for something that complements what you already know.

This is where the work experience comes into play and as others have mentioned helps to formulate your plan. I learned and matured during the first few years of my professional career. During that time, I developed where and what I wanted to do based on that work experience. This perspective allowed me to have deeper insight on my career path. I then took my MBA as it was a prerequisite as to where I want to be. Looking back, it’s definately different than how I saw my career as an undergrad.

You should really take the time to think about what you want to do now. Because as you get older, it becomes harder to change your career path.

I am going to grad school this fall at CCS. I don’t need that sh!t as I have enough clients and jobs to keep my freelance business rocking. Im just doing it for fun. Its gonna hurt financially definitely as I will need to reduce my paying jobs and take on tuition fees. But I don’t really care as I remember having such a blast as an under grad student and now that I have some experience I think that I will have an even better time in grad school.

I guess to be honest, I have motives besides just fun. One being I am always trying to improve myself, this comes from my student days where by the competitive nature of trans design everyone is trying to kick everyone else’s asses. So, a structured grad program will aid in my improving, especially being surrounded by other bad asses. Also I want to get back into more trans projects as most of my current freelance work is in id.

Also, I got my BA in trans design around 10 years ago. I am going back for more trans des but at the grad level. Just cant get enough of that transport design stuff I guess.

The big question remains, what area of trans design will I specialize in? Or should I specialize? I like trucks, but I also like boats cars and basically anything with moving parts and motors. I guess I will cross that bridge when I reach it.

Hey Brook,

What school are you studying at?? I share you passion with trans design and am looking for somewhere to do my masters, preferably OS.

brook is that “talented, hard working” guy I was talking about… Man, I’m so lookin forward to the stories that come out o this Brook! Just out of curiosity, and for the readers here, why did you select CCS over Art Center and Royal College of Art?

I’m a little bit skeptical on grad school, or the need for it. You definitely need it if you want to be a professor somewhere, or be in a cerebral environment like Microsoft Research. And if you are someone like Brook, and want to go back to college and have a good time and hang out with other students, that’s great. I’ve thought a lot about the need to have a structured, supportive environment that also allows for pursuing your own ideas, and paying a lot for the “opportunity”. What are you paying for, aside of access to professors and other motivated students? How much overhead is in an undergrad or grad school education, that goes to turning on the lights and teacher’s salaries and subsidizing the cafeteria food? Why can you only do something in grad school, and not on your own time or weekends? Is it like buying a gym membership - “I’m paying for this so I need to go work out”? Are you learning anything about real-world design management in college (I’ve worked with fresh MBAs who are all theory, no execution) that you can’t get by working and trying it out first-hand?

I’m all for external motivation, and the possibility of being able to shift gears in a career once done with those couple of years of school, but those are just possibilities and hopes.

The main reason for CCS over RCA and Art Center was price as Im gonna need to fund this little puppy all on my own. Art Center was around 100k for the two years for just tuition, CCS is only about 60k. I didn’t even look into RCA because 1, its London. I have already lived there, and I know how expensive it is, and I don’t want to downgrade my lifestyle too badly which would be the case coming over to the UK with US dollars. Besides, I wanted an American education as I already went to Coventry Uni for my undergrad.

Another reason for my decision was the location, Detroit, believe it or not. Apparently Detroit is up and coming with artists and musicians moving in as its cheap. Want to get in at the grass roots level. I want to experience some of that dirty grime as well because to me that intense industry and dilapidated scenery is inspiring to me. Also, its the home to Detroit Techno, nuff said.

My wife needs to go to NYC 4 times a year for one month stints. I thought that NYC would be in driving distance so I could visit the big apple more frequently.

Finally, Art Center is full of rich bitch snobs (JOKE! :wink: ) At least Detroit is keeping it real. Really real.

I hear you. In the US or UK I would also have thought twice about going for a Masters.
Fortunately, I got into a school in a country which is 100% free for everybody (also international) and all classes on grad level are taught in English.
I heard the Swedish government will ask for some tuition soon though from international students.

Many colleges are equally clueless, whether in Ireland, USA or Ivory Coast. Don’t go to postgrad unless you can definitely get into Royal College of Art, Stanford or CCA. Only there you will get something out of your education.

Work will get you just as far. Even designing one-piece plastic products is a challenge in its own right.

what?! That is quite the statement.
Would you care to elaborate and share your experiences since you have obviously analyzed and evaluated all other school options offering post grad?

now seriously, there many schools, offering different things. The challenge is to find the right one. This is why it is important to know what you want before deciding on Grad school.
For the record, I am more than happy with my choice of school and believe it was a good decision… and it is non of the schools above.