What You Won’t Learn in Grad School about Making Money

Jamey Muller
May 7, 2021

Going to graduate school is helpful for many people who want to refine the knowledge they gained while studying at university or working in other fields. It’s helpful to many businesses to have someone on staff who has taken the time to become an expert in an academic field. However, as useful as graduate school can be, there are many things you won’t learn in grad school, especially about making money.

Realistic Saving Schedules

For most of us, the time we spend at school is time we are not saving money. Many students who attend graduate school directly after earning their bachelor degrees will put off establishing a schedule of saving until their next graduation. Unless you earn your graduate degree part-time while working at a full-time job, chances are you won’t be able to save a significant amount of money toward retirement and other life events until later after your career is established. Without savings, it may be difficult later to take advantage of opportunities to invest and grow your net worth.

Graduate school students need to begin the habit of saving money even while at school.

Office Politics

Academia is a highly politicized arena as most graduate-level students will learn. However, once graduate students enter the workforce, they are sometimes baffled by the nuances of navigating office politics. Fitting in to the corporate culture and forming strong bonds with colleagues are two important ways employees can position themselves to be in line for promotions and raises.

Graduate students should make a point of doing an internship or taking a part-time or short-term job during breaks in their studies to get a chance to learn the differences between the politics of the classroom and those of the break room.

Negotiating With Customers

Unless you’ve specifically studied the psychology of negotiation, graduate school doesn’t really prepare you for appeasing difficult clients and customers. Some of us are naturally adept at finding a balance between the customer’s desires and company policy, while others will only get this through personal experience. Negotiation is also important for you personally: a botched negotiation with a customer can send that account to the competition, while a botched negotiation with your boss can mean the difference between a raise and being passed over.

Graduate students should get training in mediation and negotiation before looking for career opportunities after commencement.

Motivating a Team

If you’ve attended graduate school in hopes of getting a higher-ranking job when you do enter the workforce, then you’ve got to be prepared to lead a team of people when you do land that job. You’ll be responsible for motivating that team of people in order to earn the company a higher profit. However, unless you’ve sought it out or studied an MBA, leadership opportunities in graduate programs may be lacking. Furthermore, your colleagues who have put in the time on the job may resent being led by someone who has earned a higher degree but who has spent less time in the trenches.

Graduate students should seek leadership opportunities while still in school. Once on the job, leadership skills will make it easier for you to give a top-quality performance in your new position and reach your goals faster.

On-the-Job Experience

The single most important thing that you won’t get from graduate school is on-the-job training. To be fair, your graduate education may become far more useful to you in the long run than spending a year or two working your way up the ladder. However, when you first begin working after getting your MA or other graduate degree, you may find that adjusting to the pace of working at a normal job is demanding. Rescheduling your time so each working moment is profitable may also be difficult to get used to.

Graduate students should keep the importance of on-the-job experience at the forefront of their minds when starting a new position. Though your colleagues may not have a higher degree, their training and hard work has helped them to become experts in their field as well. The management will be hoping that through your studies and research and the other employees’ understanding of the company, you’ll be able to bring a multifaceted approach to the company’s mission.

Jamey Muller
Jamey is a 24-year-old living in Houston, Texas. He's an aspiring financial analyst with a passion for anything finance related. Over the last few years, he has taken many digital courses and read books on anything he's interested in. In his freetime he likes to hang out with his friends and likes to play video games.

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