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The post-university paradox: Work or more education?

Diploma Programme (DP) graduate Gözde Duru Aksoy ­­­on planning your next steps after graduating from university. She connects with her IB classmate Başak Günver to determine the benefits of entering workforce after graduation. This is Duru’s third story in our graduate voices series.

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By Gözde Duru Aksoy & Başak Günver

“There are actually a lot of options to pursue and no one scheme fits all”

It’s the senior year of college and graduation is approaching. Perhaps a little bit of stress is starting to build up as you begin to make some important decisions. What will you do next? Work, pursue a master’s or even begin a PhD program? If you choose to work, what field and position are you interested in? If the answer is continuing with education, which school and program will you choose? These were the questions racing through the minds of my friends and I as we were preparing to conclude the college chapter of our lives.

I’ve witnessed people going to work directly, continuing to a master’s or a PhD abroad and even some staying at the same college or university to complete a master’s. There is also the option of a combination, having a job and being a student. The list continues … there are actually a lot of options to pursue and no one scheme fits all. For some people, choosing an option is easily accomplished and they may focus on following a path towards their goals. For others, it’s much harder to make up their minds and they are more easily able to go where opportunities exist. You need to find the best choice that makes you happy in the long-run and if you are unsure at first or if you make the wrong decision, that is perfectly fine. All in all, that’s life, right?

As I’ve already written about the process of how I ended up in Zurich pursuing a master’s in detail before, I wanted to focus on the decision of going to work directly after university in this article. Since I don’t know much about that part of the story, I thought I should ask for help. The best comparison can be made if most of the variables can be kept constant and the important difference is the ultimate decision. So, I asked my best friend Başak Günver to share her experiences, as we both completed the IB in the same high school and we both graduated from the same field in the same university. Here is her side of the story:

In the last year of college, everyone seemed to be confused about whether they should pursue a master’s degree directly after college or start working right away. Even though at least 90% of my friends were moving abroad for a master’s and I was one of the few that were started working in one of the most competitive sectors. I was confident about what I wanted to do since I had put so much effort in my college life to understand what kind of a career path I wanted to follow.

During my bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering at Bilkent University, I attended many informative conferences with organizations like ESTIEM (European Students of Industrial Engineering and Management), trainings, CEO-chats, was involved in case-solving competitions in order to widen my network and gained insight about the dynamics of business world. I completed internships starting from the freshman year of college which enabled me to understand my strengths and weaknesses by experiencing different work dynamics and work cultures in different companies.

Since the senior year of high school, I’ve always had a passion about consultancy. That is why I tried to complete my internships mainly in this sector. In my freshman year, I did an internship at Ernst & Young Advisory Department, in which I have completed a market and competitor analysis for a possible strategic market entry and business plan for a large chamber of commerce. Furthermore, I completed my last internship at Strategy& where I worked in sales and marketing strategy development and process design for a Turkish technology company. I was able to observe how a consulting company functions and I decided that I was really interested in defining company goals and performing research to implement strategic recommendations, like building key relationships, preparing reports and presentations to present new ideas and generating strategies for other companies. That is why I started working at PwC Management Consultancy right after graduation.

“Going to master’s after experiencing the business world gives you a chance to better understand how the abstract concepts are actually applied in daily work life”

From the start, I was very excited about the work life because I was one of those students who gets average grades on exams regardless of how much I study. I was not able to transfer all of my knowledge and capabilities fully on a piece of paper. In the business world you are not judged or evaluated only on your daily performance as you have the chance to show your skills and talents, such as your interpersonal communication, business and global acumen, motivation, self-leadership etc., throughout the period of performance assessment which is generally 6 months or 1 year. Furthermore, going to master’s after experiencing the business world gives you a chance to better understand how the abstract concepts are actually applied in daily work life, which enables you to choose which areas to focus on during your master’s more accurately based on your business interests.

To conclude, I believe that going to master’s after working for a couple of years is a better choice to take firm steps in your career path, which is why I am planning to do an MBA after enriching my business know-how in my second company. In a couple of months, I am moving to Germany from Turkey to work in another global consulting firm and hoping to start my MBA after reaching a “senior” title which is critical for most of the MBA programs.”

Başak was one of the early-deciders, whereas I made my decision nearly last minute. The point is, we are both happy with our decisions so far. So, try to understand what you want to do with your life and try to base your decision to that fact. And even if after some time you feel like you made the wrong decision, don’t worry, you can still adapt yourself and start pursuing another path!

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Gözde Duru Aksoy completed her IB Diploma at TED Ankara College Private High School in Ankara, Turkey (2014). She continued her studies with a degree of BSc in Industrial Engineering at Bilkent University, Ankara (2018). She is currently pursuing MSc in Management, Technology and Economics at ETH Zurich. You will probably find her binge-drinking coffee in a café or hitting the weights before treadmill at the gym. You can reach her and send a meme as an ice-breaker on LinkedIn.

To hear more from Diploma Programme (DP) graduates check out these IB programme stories. If you are an IB grad and want to share your story, write to us at alumni.relations@ibo.org. We appreciate your support in sharing IB stories and invite you to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram!

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