Post # 1
Hey bees! Education path/career question here!
A little background on me/my education/career first: I recently finished my undergraduate degree in the US. I was a business/marketing major at a university that’s highly ranked in all of its programs, especially the STEM majors. I very much disliked my major though (I’d switched at least 6 times and had to eventually just choose something and stick with it so I could graduate…I had an unpleasant overall college experience and just really wanted to get out), and I don’t find much interest or passion in the fields that my business/marketing major is taking me into. I’ve completed lots of internships and was involved extracurricularly, but it’s not streamlined work experience…just whatever I was interested in at the time. There’s editing/writing, graphic design, marketing, and education background on my resume.
I focused on graphic design for a while, but the thing is, I’m considering branching off completely and going toward the science route. Branching WAY off – I’m talking science and physics….earth science/geophysics or astrophysics.
Here is my actual question….because I don’t have the official education background (I have the side involvement and independent study but no degrees or training outside of my science courses in undergrad), should I be looking to do a post-bacc/second undergraduate program or attempt to get into a master’s program in the new field? I know that for many of the jobs I would want, I need to work my way up the education ladder anyways, but would it be dumb to get a second undergraduate degree? Or would that be necessary in order to gain admission to a master’s program where I’ve had no real previous education in that discipline?
I have plans to speak to admissions reps and advisors at my choice universities, but I just wanted to see if any of you had experience or advice. Thanks!
Post # 2
I am in the excatly the same situation… started off as an astronomy/astro physics major, math took too long, was too hard and switched to business management just to finish college. Now I’m considering going back for either a undergrad or straight to masters for physics. I’m just going to start out taking all the math courses at my local community college. Either way, a masters or a 2nd undergrad, I still would need those math/science courses since business majors were not required to take those. After you speak to your admissions reps, can you please message me on what they said? I just finished my degree 6 months ago so I haven’t been looking at going back for maybe another year or so.
Post # 3
Talking to your counselor is a good idea. I am branching to finance with my Master in Accounting, currently employed at Big 4–not such a huge leap like yours. My old professor told me to start taking classes in Finance as an unclassified student, which is what I plan to do next year Fall.
Post # 4
I’m in a molecular biology grad program and not physics, but from my experience, you probably wouldn’t get into a very good grad program without a strong science background and/or experience in the field. I know several people that have gotten non-biology science degrees and have had to take extra courses to get into my program.
I would look into what the programs that you are interested are requiring. It may not be explicitly stated, but you could probably get an idea from the program director as to whether someone with a business background and very little science would get in. You don’t even really know if you’re going to like physics, so I’d definitely take a few courses (even free courses online would help, MIT has many) to see if you’re really interested in it. Sometimes people get caught up in the idea of science, rather than the actual nitty gritty that a science career demands. It can be very tedious at times and incredibly frustrating.
Look into what kinds of jobs that you can get with an MS degree in physics. You may need a PhD to do what you are actually considering. That said, I think that a post-bacc is probably better than getting a second bachelors. That way you can take the relevant science courses without having to deal with the fluff courses taking up more of your time.
Post # 5
Absolutely, I can! I’m so glad to know I’m not the only one thinking these exact things about going from business to something like physics. My husband is supportive, but most people think I’m crazy haha. I keep kicking myself for not sticking with the hard courses in case I became more interested in the sciences, but there was so much pressure to get out on time and keep my scholarship and I was just miserable, and despite my university being well-known for its STEM education, there was NO passion from any of the professors in those classes. I’m really trying to explore the programs and university options available to me and find an education that will be better suited to me this time around.
Thanks so much for the recommendations! I’m taking a few online courses currently, but I’m going to check out MIT’s options now too. I definitely agree that I will need a PhD for what I truly want to do, but I soooo wish I could get work experience now…even just jobs where I’m basically nobody but can be in the environment. It’s a lot of time and money to go after that advanced degree (esp. if I end up starting with a post-bacc) and then get into the field and realize I can’t handle it or something.
My biggest question is what to do right now….I finished my undergrad degree so recently that going right back to school for something different seems like the wrong course of action (not having had enough time to fully process and research the situation). I’m finding that I’m not really qualified for any jobs in the science fields, even internships…..The only places that will hire me are looking at my business/marketing degree and experience. Does it hurt my resume in any way to take a business/marketing job (as a placeholder and money-earner) or is it better to keep perservering after something science-related, even if it’s unpaid and takes ages to get? I’m afraid if I keep adding business experience to my resume that I’d get out of my post-bacc/masters/PhD and every employer or institution I want to work for is like….but you have a fully-loaded business-related resume…..
Post # 6
Ive always been taught to leave out jobs that are irrelevant to the job you’re applying for. You can just leave out your business jobs when you apply for science related jobs. Although anything in management will probably be helpful because scientists often work in teams. Also check out Khan Academy!!
Post # 7
I don’t think that there’s any harm in doing a business job now. After you get a PhD it won’t necessarily hurt you, but it could help depending on the jobs that you want. Many industries hiring scientists like to see business experience as well, and most candidates don’t have that. If you could get a job on the business side of a scientific company, that’s even better. Now, you could go right back to school now. The there have been three people in my lab who have done that. Gotten their degree and taken extra coursework right after to be able to get into the grad program. I just wouldn’t pay the money to do it unless you know that it’s what you want to do. If you can get an unpaid internship or volunteer in a lab at your former university that’s good too, if you can afford it.
Note also that you don’t always have to get a masters to get a PhD. I’m going straight from BS to PhD, no masters in between. And a research-based PhD program should pay you to do it. Your tuition would be subsidized and you get a stipend. Any program that doesn’t do it isn’t worth your time. BUT I think that first you need to make sure that it’s what you want to do. Getting a PhD is time consuming and frustrating, if it’s not absolutely what you want to do, then it’s going to be that much tougher. More than half of the people I started with have left without a PhD.
Post # 8
I have 2 undergrads. I have Bachelor of Arts (Majors in History and Psyc) and a BLA (Bachelor of Landscape Architecture – yes that’s a thing, it’s just not very common, no it’s not actually a science or arts degree, it’s a BLA).
I had the same debate as you, in my case, getting an MLA wouldn’t have made much/any differencce to my career prospects and I felt the BLA program was more rounded and would provide me a better education for my career field.
I think in your case you should do the same, look at what’s required for what you want to do. I would guess that you’ll probably need an MSc to get most jobs – if you’re able to apply for a masters program based on your current degree that’s what I would do. I would guess that you might need to take a few undergrad courses first to upgrade your degree – you’ll likely need some undergrad lab sciences courses if you don’t have them already.