For years, we’ve heard the steady drumbeat of those that say it’s imperative to get your Master’s Degree if you want to move up in the public relations or marketing field. There are also many that disagree, saying it’s not at all necessary. I disagree with both schools of thought. It’s not imperative, but it’s also wrong to say it isn’t necessary. Let me explain.
Late last month, I was accepted into Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communication for its online master’s degree program. I’m beyond excited to get started and continue to better myself as a professional from a great university. My internal debate about grad school started with a simple question: “Do I WANT to go or do I NEED to go?” And that is the question you should ask yourself if you are considering the same.
The argument that it isn’t necessary, or that you shouldn’t go is silly and antiquated. This isn’t me saying to you that you MUST go for your MBA, Master’s in Communication, etc. This is me telling you that it is YOUR CHOICE and not someone else’s to make.
I went back and forth for years about whether to get a higher degree. After I received my undergraduate degree from Temple University (yes, I’m #TempleMade), the thought of going back to school was not something I was keen on. However, as I got older, the idea of challenging myself to be more than what I am now became exciting.
Here’s what my thought process was:
1. Research– It’s one of the pillars of public relations, right? Well, I researched a ton of schools and spoke with a number of trusted colleagues and friends. My wife is a professor and she just attained her Ph.D. in July of 2014. So, I had plenty of good information about what direction to go in.
2. How will it help me- Look, it’s ok to be selfish here. You aren’t just going to get a higher degree because it would be great fun. You’ll work hard so that it can help YOU in the long run. Not anyone else. Do it for you. Not for what your boss thinks, your friends, or anyone else. Your name will be on the diploma.
3. Online or on campus- Since going to campus would be tough with two kids and two parents working, I sought out the highly reviewed online programs. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check out what the “brick and mortar” programs offer. I will say that distance programs no longer come with the “Oh, you are doing online?” stigma. My wife earned her Ph.D from the Medical University of South Carolina’s online program , save for a yearly residency week on campus in July.
4. Time- If you can’t commit the time to put in the work, don’t go for your degree. We budget time for clients, social postings, and more. You need to do the same for that Master’s Degree. Once I was accepted, I went into planning mode and created calendar dates. The more you plan, the more time you’ll have to study and focus.
5. Believe- Can you do it? Of course you can. I’ve used this quote from Robert F. Kennedy for years. “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” From the moment I committed to applying for my Master’s Degree at Purdue, I asked “why not?” Why couldn’t I do this? Why not now? Believe in your talents, skills, and determination and you’ll succeed.
Remember, you don’t HAVE TO get a Master’s Degree, or any higher degree for that matter. What you do have to do is listen to what you WANT TO do. That’s what is most important.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments!
Jas’ note: It’s a great honor to have my wife, Michelle Mollica, RN, MS, OCN, as my next guest in the Inspire Series. Michelle recently gave an address to nursing graduates of D’Youville College, which was called “inspirational” by a number of those in attendance. An edited version appears here.
Firstly, I want to say congratulations. You have made it. For some, this has been a long path. Many of you have come from different fields, changed educational paths along the way, or changed careers entirely. You have gone from a scared student, afraid to do a physical assessment on your own classmate, to a confident, mature, professional graduate nurse, ready to take on the world. You have made it through the long nights of studying for exams and skills testing, preparing for clinical rotations, and balancing your home and family lives. You have made sacrifices that have finally paid off. You are now graduate nurses from D’Youville College, and you should be extremely proud of yourselves.
As you go out into the world of nursing, remember that in all ways, you are now a representative of D’Youville College’s School of Nursing. In your clinical rotations, you have seen different types of nurses; there are some who made you question the reasons you went into nursing in the first place (we’ve all met them, and we know they are out there), and then there are the nurses who are extraordinary. They seem to light up a patient’s room with just a few words. They are a patient advocate in every sense of the word. These nurses go above and beyond the basic tasks every single day. You have the potential to do amazing things, and I have no doubt that you will.
I urge you to consider what you can do to improve the face of nursing in the future. You are entering this new phase of your lives at a time when the world of healthcare is changing…. changing in ways that will call upon each of you…each one of us…to think differently about nursing…how and what you can contribute, not only to caring about individual people, but what you can contribute to the good of your community.
You can become a shaper of change! You can be the one who changes the face of nursing! Embrace this incredible opportunity! And when opportunities knock, open the door, accept the challenge. You might surprise yourself!
I would like to share with you a few things that could be of use to you as you transition into your role as a nurse:
- Understand and always remember why you went into nursing. When times get tough, and believe me, they can, this is your “go to pill.” It will help ground you.
- You need to have passion. Do what you love to do……and take your heart to work. And on that note, when you lose your passion in whatever field of nursing you are in, consider a change. The amazing thing about nursing is that you can go anywhere and do anything as a nurse. This leads me to my next point…
- Embrace opportunities and challenges. They will make you stronger and wiser. And they open doors. I promise you.
- The next is one that I know you’ve heard, but it rings true especially in nursing: Always do the right thing, especially when no one is looking.
- Set goals. Know where you’re going and what you want to do. Life is never a straight line and that’s okay. But always have a vision of what and who you want to be.
- Always keep a sense of humor.
- Never stop learning. I hope that we as your faculty have shown you that you will never know everything about everything. You will become experts in your field, but the education never stops. You should always strive to learn more and continue to grow.
Thank you so much for allowing me to take a small part in your celebration.
Michelle Mollica, RN, MS, OCN is the coordinator of the RN to BSN Online Program at D’Youville College in Buffalo, N.Y. and an Assistant Professor in the college’s School of Nursing. She is also completing her PhD in Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina.