Career vs Further Education: Why I Decided to Pursue My Career First


For most of us here, pursuing further education is a goal we want to achieve as soon as possible. All the cool, inspiring stories from students currently enrolled in some of the world’s best universities and the promising notion saying that having an extra degree is the fastest and best way to move forward in the professional world might be the reasons why most of us are so eager to go back to school again (and immediately). But maybe, all the promises and cool stories are not the only thing you need to consider. Maybe it’s not a bad idea to consider pursuing your career first. Our columnist, Hans, shares his reasons why he did exactly that.

There are many roads leading to Rome, they say. As a final year student back in 2014, I had many options in front of me: pursuing graduate studies, getting a full-time job or starting a business were among the options. I knew from the beginning I would like to have career in the financial industry. I knew that I need some further studies along the way to sharpen my skills specifically in that particular area, since my undergraduate degree comprised of a broad range business subjects. But, there was uncertainty growing within me: what kind of career would be the most suitable for me — something that I was unable to answer with confidence at that time.

At the end of my college years, I convinced myself to pursue my career first and postpone my plan for a Master’s degree. These reasons might still hold true to this day

  • As a fresh grad, I need the opportunity to learn and grow professionally

As a student, I was involved with multiple projects, many happened at the same time. The experience equipped me with necessary skills to break the arduous job seeking process, yet it was still a world away from a true full-time job day-to-day life.

Soft skills such as professionalism, problem-solving, and communication, and work ethics have been uttered numerous times during college, but never had I embraced the importance of such skillset before I stepped into my first full time job.

You will face boring days and exciting moments, decisions taken with careful considerations and those based on personal interest, and so many more circumstances where possessing aforementioned abilities is no longer a luxury but already a necessity. And this, I believe, is something you can only get when you do a professional work, where your interest is not the only thing is at stake — there are people who will be affected by how well you do your work.

  • Pursuing my career first lets me take a brief look at what it would be like in the long run

I believe work is a combination of a sprint and marathon. When you work hard, it might not be going to compensate you for the present time only. It will incrementally affect your career in the long run. On the opposite, not doing so due to demotivating team, terrible boss, or just overall disappointing job will take its toll eventually.

Our brain is instilled to have stronger memory on things we do not like that occur only so seldom and sacrificing good and positive habit that we sometimes that for granted. Know your steps and count your risks carefully as a little misstep may haunt you for years to come.

As for me, going for a full-time job upon graduating from college has given me an insider view how things will look like as I grow my career, which in turn will give broader perspective on how I would live my life for years to come.

Hans Former Workspace
My first job was at an e-commerce, then I moved to the Indonesian Financial Services Authority. If I hadn’t started somewhere, I wouldn’t have known what sector I really like and what kind of education I would need in the long run. (Photo provided by author)
  • We all could use the experience of working together and learning from our coworkers

At work, you will meet people your age, twice your age, or somewhere in between.

During college, I used to assume people just a couple of years older entailing more knowledge or experience. At work, age is only a number. I have met and worked with people whose new year resolution would mean new job. On the other hand, some people are grateful enough to secure a job and hold onto it for the rest of their lives. As time goes by, priorities may shift. A career-centric person might leave a well-paid job to spare more time with his/her family.

It would be beneficial to learn from them, not only about technical work-related stuff but also how to deal with life problems as they arise. Seeing how people have different preferences and learning from their experiences might open doors you otherwise would never know existed in the first place.

  • It gives me the space to recreate my strategy based on my current needs and trajectories — not on what I thought I would’ve need.

During my first year at work, I was a little disappointed on how things go. Another year followed and I have started to grasp the tips and trick to survive. Then I realized that I might need another skills and certifications to advance in my career. I had never thought that the competencies that used to be so far away from a business degree such as programming will turn out to be beneficial at work. Some employers are kind enough to provide their employees with the best trainings and certifications, with some even going further by sponsoring you for a graduate study. The others may not be so lucky. The point is that some things that you were not aware will take your career a lot faster might be the one thing you already studied. Or the skills you had during early college years may turn out to be relevant in your career now. Go one step back and see the big picture, then seize the moment.

By no means I’m trying to change your mind about pursuing further education. It’s your own choice and you know what’s best for you. However, I just want to share my experience and remind you to consider all options before finally choosing your next step. Good luck!

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Hanryano works at Indonesia Financial Services Authority covering Non-Bank Financial Institutions sector. He used to work in an e-commerce company where he was familiar with warehouse management system and the growing start-up community in Indonesia. Hanryano earned his bachelor degree from Institut Teknologi Bandung majoring in Business Management with specialization in Finance and Operations. During college, he was an exchange student at ESC Rennes, France and secured funding from the Ministry of Education. His time outside work is filled with learning new subjects, traveling, and volunteering.