So you are thinking about going pursue higher studies by doing a MS in USA? You probably have friends or family that have gone that path and given you positive reviews. Well, realize that you need to better research about the different available programs in the USA; and also, research the industry trends in USA and/or country you would like to live in after you pursue your higher studies in USA. If you have worked for a little bit, you have transferable skills that would be useful to your Masters’ research team or future career. Here’s a list of things you need to do before you get started on your application. These items will give you a strong head start on those who are just following the herd or following the advice of their elders who have never worked in the field.
1. Which industry do you want to go to?
Which industry should you choose? This is the million-dollar question. Many highly successful people seem to have fallen into a field by chance; but given the technology available today, it’s much easier to analyze the different available fields and find your dream job. As the following questions in your decision-making. Then come up with a list of careers and sort them out by your level of interest. You can find relevant industry data at www.onetonline.org for jobs data in the United States. There are similar websites available for jobs in other countries.
- Which careers are growing?
- Career databases, such as onetonline.org, have a list of all the industries along with growth rates and average salaries
- Google search “fastest growing careers”
- Which careers are you passionate about?
- Which courses did you enjoy most at school?
- What did you enjoy doing the most at your last job?
- Which careers closely relate to your previous experiences?
- What skills do job positions in different careers require?
- What transferable skills do you have that can be used in those jobs?
- Which careers do your family and friends work in?
- These are the industries in which you already have a foot in the door
2. What do you want to do after you graduate?
Now that you have an idea of which industry/industries you want to get into, have a look at the available careers in the field. The career databases should also give you job descriptions. For example, in the automotive field; you could want to be an automotive design engineer or an automotive manufacturing engineer. These are very different job descriptions even though they are in the same field. Make a list of jobs in the profession that excite you. These are the jobs you should ideally work in once you pursue a MS in USA.
3. Where do you want to live after you graduate?
Make a list of places that you would consider living after graduation? Do you want to live in a big city or a small town? Do you prefer hot climates? Or colder climates? Do you want to go back to your home country after graduation? Make this list as broad as possible if you are not exactly sure about this. Just note that it is much easier for you to get a job in a country where you pursue higher studies. For example, if you pursue higher studies in US, then it would be easier to get a job in the US than in Europe or Australia.
4. Contact people in these careers
Now that you have an idea of what you want to do and where you want to live, look up people who are in your area of interest using LinkedIn. Contact them for informational interview. Ask them about:
- What a day in their job looks like
- Is there room for growth in their job or industry?
- Any visa issues in the country?
- What the future of the industry looks like
- What universities would they recommend for this career?
- The pros and cons of their geographic location.
- Any other career advice in this field
Side Note 1: If you are looking to do a Phd, then the best people to contact would be the professors in the fields. When you contact them, make sure you send them well thought out, well researched queries on their field of research to expect a response.Side Note 2: If you are unable to get in touch with these professionals, you can backtrack their careers using their LinkedIn profile and see where their history. You can use this knowledge to your advantage when determining your career path.
5. Make a list of universities
Armed with this information, start making a list of universities in your field. Also, look at worldwide college rankings to find the best universities in your field.
6. Prioritize universities
Prioritize universities based on university rankings, industrial relevance, location, starting salary.
7. Start applying.
Best of luck!!!
-Abhishek Kumar, Author, Scholarships for Indian Citizens