Master’s degree can help students in job search

Juliane Sunshine/Contributing Writer

In competition with three other applicants with the same level of experience for a job in media relations, FIU alumnus Aileen Izquierdo says she stood out because of one thing: her master’s degree.

In 1995, Izquierdo graduated with a bachelor’s in public relations. However, shortly after entering the workforce, she returned to school to pursue a master’s in integrated communication, now known as Global Strategic Communications, the program she currently oversees.

“After my bachelor’s, I went to go work in the agency world and that didn’t work out for me, and [I] came back to work on my master’s. I ended up working at FIU[‘s] Media Relations Department and got some great experiences there,” she said.

Now as a professor and GSC faculty coordinator at the University, Izquierdo believes she wouldn’t have been offered these opportunities without her master’s degree.

“After I got my master’s, I had a professor tell me that there was this great job at FAU overseeing their Media Relations Department, so I applied for it,” Izquierdo said.

Shortly after applying, Izquierdo went through a rigorous multi-phase interview process and found out three other people were applying for the same job, all with the same amount of experience. But only she had the master’s.

She went on to become the vice president of communications at several institutions before landing back at the University.

“The perspective of whether … someone needs a master[‘s] is a personal decision and depending on field. [In] communications, you can get a job straight out of undergrad with a bachelor[‘s] degree, it can fine tune your skills and network; however, the challenge comes when you want that next step,” Izquierdo said.

That next step is managerial positions. How do you take that next big leap when competition is fierce and competitive? The question then becomes, what makes you stand out?

Fittings for cap and gown have already started as students prepare to graduate in December. However, there has been an increase in students pursuing additional degrees after the bachelor’s. Some students, like senior Maria Gil, who is approaching graduation with a journalism degree, believe the bachelor’s has lost its competitive edge.

“Most of the jobs I want just require a B.A., but I think most jobs today require a master’s degree,” Gil said.

Izquierdo recommends a master’s for various reasons, the first is, “it never hurts anybody.” In addition to increasing your knowledge and learning a new set of skills, she says, the degree is good for those interested in managerial positions, participating in decision-making processes and earning more.

“I think that FIU students are very fortunate, in that the school has a very large range of master[‘s] degree programs and from a cost perspective, it’s less from what you will find compared to a private institution,” Izquierdo said. “I just think it’s a wise investment, it gives you that extra wiggle room, that chance for a managerial position. It can only help.”

As the bachelor’s degree becomes all too common, a master’s degree can help set you apart from the crowd.

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