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Graduate Programs: A Honest Point of View

Graduate Programs: A Honest Point of View

By Richard Liu 

Let me start off with a question: What do you expect from a graduate program?

You’re probably thinking: unlimited opportunities, accelerated career growth or simply that you need to complete one after you graduate.

Coming from one of the largest graduate programs in Australia and being friends with many in other ones, here is my personal insight and thoughts in pursuing one as your full time gig after university. 

Meaningful work

One of the biggest questions any new graduate asks is whether they will be doing meaningful work. If you’re looking to contribute to the bigger picture, then a graduate program is probably not for you. You’re most likely going to do very operational or what is commonly referred to as grunt work. If you’re interested in building something from the ground up, and being actively involved in the big picture, the start-up culture may be more suitable for you.

Managers are key

This one might be obvious, but worth mentioning. The difference between a good or bad manager is enormous. I mean enormous like it’s actually going to mean the difference between you potentially loving or hating the program. Your manager is pretty much a lucky dip. If they want to help you grow and provide you with a network of opportunity, they will do so and you will feel like you’ve won the lotto.

Can you try any job you want?

Wait, hold on. I was told that too, all of the marketing pamphlets thrown at me said so. And that worked, I was excited about the promises they made. 

But, like most things there may be a catch. You may be restricted from trying different roles. Again, with most things the best way to approach it is without any expectations. That way, if your graduate program is awesome, it will blow you away and if it isn’t as awesome, you won’t be terribly disappointed.

Oh but there is a catch. You’re actually restricted. I mean even I got a bit lucky with my program, I heard in other ones they really restrict you. My best advice is to go in not expecting much. This way if your graduate program is awesome it will blow you away but if it isn’t at least you aren’t disappointed.

Graduate communities

One of the most positive things to come out of graduate programs is the community and connections you make. There’s so many networking opportunity and truly is amazing. It’s a great opportunity to make friends with the same career trajectory as you and helps motivate you to achieve great things. For me, the network of friends I made was the most rewarding thing about the entire program.

Key Takeaway

Whatever you do, make the graduate program yours. Even if it is disappointing, you have the opportunity to network, create new friends and put yourself out there to try new experiences within the company. And the experience is something you can’t get anywhere else.

 

Header Image: Jonathan Daniels

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