What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? 10 years? This is a question a friend posed to me as we chatted about what my plans were as an ingénue fresh out of college. I was taken aback. Sure, I had thought about future career plans but thinking about “my life” plan was a novel exercise. Naturally, certain elements are outside of our control, such as marriage and children, and should be taken in stride. However, ten years from now, do we hope to be married, with children? Do we want to be busy, work late hours, work in a female or male-dominated workplace? Work on the east coast, west coast, abroad?
Examining the intersection between personal life satisfaction and career aspirations could also involve contemplating pursuing further education. The decision to return to school is a big one and should be taken seriously. How will going back to school help you get to where you want to be? Is it necessary? Statistically speaking, yes, the more schooling the more money to be made. However, you will need to do a personal cost-benefit analysis to determine whether this will be true for you. Using a calculator like this one can help you prioritize and begin to outline the time and financial commitment that is necessary. I know many people who have paid hundreds of thousands for a graduate education, only to realize in practice that they were in the wrong profession. Needless to say, it will be invaluable to you to critically reflect and seek to determine whether the time and cost of going back to school is worth it.
Be active in your search. Talk to people who are working in your desired field. Consider a related internship. If you feel that pursuing further education aligns with your future goals and will benefit you in the long-term, than go for it! Just remember – the commitment to return to school and the decision process itself can be emotionally and physically taxing. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Seek out friends and family members you can count on. Built a network of support that will be there for you during any difficulties you may encounter.
*This article was originally written for our friend and partner Early-Twenties
Ping is a recent college graduate of Duke University with a degree in political science. She is excited about the next stage of her life. She loves traveling, reading, and doing yoga. More importantly, she is thrilled to be part of the NEXT for Women community!