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5 things I learned in graduate school that helped me as an entry-level employee

The corporate world can be scary - but not when you have these five things.

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Graduate school can be intimidating. Between the hefty application and tuition fees, the waiting process of getting accepted, or not knowing whether you would be as capable as your future peers, the self-doubt kicks in like a dog to a bone.   

I was 21 when I applied for my master’s degree in Branding and Integrated Communications at the City University of New York in New York City. The idea stemmed from my father, an immigrant from the Philippines who migrated to the United States and wanted nothing more than to further my education. 

When I heard that ding in my inbox and discovered that I got accepted into the program, I realized I was in for a ride.

I worked every day at my full-time job from 8:00 AM – 5:30 PM EST. Classes started at 6:30 PM and ended at 9:30 PM, so I had to take the uptown train to ensure I made it to school on time.  

As I worked my way through the program, it was then that I realized I was amongst true advertising professionals. I was surrounded by professors and students who inspired me to fall in love with the creative world.

As month after month passed, I started applying all of my learned knowledge to my professional career. I voiced suggestions, formulated plans, and built processes and procedures within the company.

The two-year program was exciting. When applying for a master’s degree, take note that to go after something you’re passionate about and will want to do in the long run. You will thank yourself later.

So, should you pursue that degree? Only if you genuinely want it. Here’s what you’ll learn.

Grit and dedication.

Nothing is worse than a lousy piece of work and getting back a sore ‘B’ from your professor. When you see that mediocre grade, you want nothing more than to produce better work and get that A.

Rejection stings like a wasp – quick and deadly. What matters is what you do with that rejection and how you use feedback to be better than you were yesterday.

Grit and dedication also kick in when your boss tells you that you can do better. If you want to get recognized for good work, do whatever it takes to get yourself there.

The power of a team.

I used to enjoy working on my own and didn’t think that I needed anyone to do the job that needed to get done. But teamwork became essential. And as I worked in teams for over four semesters, I learned how to be a better leader and a better follower.

When you work in teams, you learn how to respect one another. You gain patience, understanding, and, most importantly, you realize that the success you win is your team’s and vice versa.

Ninja multi-tasking skills.

Between work and school, I had numerous tasks to tackle. Because of this, I always kept a cute notebook with me, so I would enjoy writing down my to-do list the evening before the next day. I also kept myself organized through a handwritten planner or by merely using Google calendar.  

When you are organized, you have a higher chance of being prepared. And when you are prepared, the world can’t stop you.

Humility is an asset.

My mother always stressed the importance of humility and how people would not respect you if you continuously self-promote yourself.

I can’t express how many times I raised my hand in class, thinking that I knew it all when I didn’t. And when you raise your hand and give the wrong answer, it humbles and reminds you that you’re human and not Siri.

As time passed, I realized that the more credit you give to your teammates, the better off you are. In return, your teammates will do the same for you when you least expect it.

Your most authentic work is your best work, even when you feel like you’re taking a risk.

Are you using someone else’s work as inspiration? No problem.  Are you copying their idea, words, and point of view? Disaster. 

When I submitted vulnerable and passion-filled pieces, I felt fulfilled and eager to find more inspiration. This part of graduate school was the most surprising. It was when I thought I was ridiculous and far fetched when I received the most praise.

Now that you know all of the fantastic things that come with attaining a graduate degree, allow me to say again that graduate school can be intimidating. The question is, are you going to let it be?

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