Meaningful Work – Is More School or Training the Answer?

My parents thought that taking courses at any time was a good idea.  They felt you never could get too much education.  My take on it is different from theirs.  Too many people default to education when times are tough.  I’d want to be sure my investment was worth the time and the money.  Today many people have huge financial debt and no job.  To decide whether training is the answer for you, you’ll need to research exactly what the training or degree will do for you.  So if your career plan includes getting training or a degree here are 10 questions to answer and some actions to take to evaluate whether the training will in fact lead to the meaningful and engaging work you are looking for.


  1. What is the climate of the industry for which you will be studying?  Is it growing?  Will it still be growing when you finish your courses?
  2. Do you need the whole program or degree or can you just learn one or two new skills and transfer some of your current skills to the position you are interested in?
  3. Would you be eligible for an internship in the field you have chosen that would enable you to move forward without any special training?
  4. Who is already doing this work? Find people doing the work you want to do and talk to them.  Ask them what the necessary training is for the job.  Ideally talk to a hiring manager.
  5. How much will this training or degree cost you? Find the costs involved in getting the degree or training.  Are scholarships and/or grants available?
  6. What increase in salary or satisfaction will you receive once you finish the training or degree program?  Is it worth the cost?
  7. Does the school you have chosen make it easy for you to do the work and attend to your other obligations? Getting the training will take travel time, study time and class time. Is it convenient for you and will you be able to fulfill your work and family obligations?
  8. Does the school have supportive faculty, a career center to help you find a job, a library open convenient hours, tutors and advisors available to help you manage your career.
  9. What do the students and graduates in the program think of the training? Talk to others who are in the program you are considering and talk to a few graduates to understand how the work load is, whether the program is comprehensive and worthwhile, and whether the degree or certificate positions you for a good job.
  10. Does the program have a good reputation?  Ask a hiring manager or others in the field you are going into how the program you are planning to go to is perceived in the industry.  Do they see this degree or certificate as an asset to finding a good job?

One More Thought

Just after I wrote this there was an article in the paper about a new fellowship created by PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel.  He is offering $100,000 to students to leave college and launch a startup!  It is called The 20 under 20 Thiel Fellowship and is open to students under 20 years old.  His reason for establishing this is that he wanted to encourage young people to invest in a business before college tuition put them in so much debt that the idea would be impossible.  Thiel says, “I think it’s best to actually try to think about the future and not default to education.”



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