Where to go from here

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Where to go from here

Postby Jennifer » Wed Feb 23, 2005 2:16 pm

Hi all. I'm a 30-something single mom of one child. I've spent the last four years working on a BS in Physics, with hopes to get into something along those lines when I finished.

About the same time, I fell into a job in biotech, as a data manager. Loved it, although I did get laid off about a year ago, and have worked as a transcriptionist since.

Biotech recruiters are beginning to call again, wanting to put me up for some very, very good jobs. Meanwhile, on the school front, I am not doing well. Taking a full load in the sciences is not easy when you are a mom and have to work. And so, in looking around, I have basically two options I see. One is to finish where I am. Depending on if I pass everything, it may take two quarters or another two years to finish. The other would be to take my units over to a no-residency school (I have in mind Charter Oak), and get a liberal arts degree with emphasis in physics. I have checked into the school and it's accreditation. It is legitimately accredited, state run, but undistinguished.

I would very much appreciate feedback on how this second path would look to you if you were reviewing my resume for a position in biotech, where I will likely go if this second option is chosen. If the name on the degree is not so well known does it matter so much, given that I have experience and would come recommended by those who've worked with me? My mother is also concerned that "Charter Oak State College" by it's name (the word Charter, specifically) is something a lot of prospective employers would look at askance. Is it a problem in your mind? Mom's a little.....conservative at times.

Lastly, what would you do? Thanks

Where to go from here

Postby Dave Jensen » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:34 pm

Hi Jennifer,

Biotech companies will hire you based on your experience with other biotech companies. A degree from a school like "Charter Oaks" will not provide you much at all, if at anything, in the way of career advancement.

This is only one person's opinion. Are there any others who are familiar with this college?

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Where to go from here

Postby Laura » Wed Feb 23, 2005 4:40 pm

If you are already getting job offers then it sounds like your degree is not critical for employment. That said, I personally would still get the degree and I'd get it from your current school.

One possibility is to ask these potential employers about getting help finishing. Many companies will pay for schooling or at the minimum allow flex time so you can fit classes in with your work schedule.

Getting through school is tough; and even harder with a young child. But, you are being a great role model so feel proud about that.

Good luck.

Where to go from here

Postby Jennifer » Wed Feb 23, 2005 5:45 pm

I've already thought to apply for jobs asking for flex time while I finish, however, at the moment there are no takers. As for paying for it, at the moment, I'm on financial aid, so the funding is not an issue. It is more a matter of frustration that a) here's all these wonderful jobs slipping right by; and b) I'm not doing well and I don't know how much longer it'll take to finish.

I've been trying to take three and four classes at a time, and I can't do it This should come as no surprise considering my life circumstances, but I still haven't quite accepted the fact I'm not Superwoman. So I'm trying again to take three classes this spring, and four in the fall, which, if I do succeed, will be enough to finish. I'd say I have 50-50 odds of passing them all; that high only because I already took three of them, and withdrew from two others halfway through. So the course material is at least familiar in five of the seven classes.

I'm also thinking about taking a year off, trying out the Charter Oak degree, and seeing where it gets me. If it proves to be a bad choice, if I've filed for time off school, I should be able to go back without any repercussions, and possibly with the advantage of a year to study up on the material. Still deciding. I'm going to talk with a counselor this week if I can.

Where to go from here

Postby Doug » Wed Feb 23, 2005 10:08 pm

Take the job. Unless there's any reason to believe that it wouldn't last for more than a year, work on the degree part time. Is it feasible to take even a single class per semester until you finish? I was upset at myself when I found myself at the same company 5 years after I started without a further degree when my colloeagues who were much more focused had MBAs and MSs.
I understand that the single-parent issue is a tough one. It may turn out that, if you take a job and prove your value to the company, flex-time opportunities might "magically" open up. Companies are a lot more likely to provide flexibility to a known (valuable) employee than someone they only know from a resume and an interview.

Where to go from here

Postby cindi » Thu Feb 24, 2005 1:01 pm

Doug is right I think you should look more into this job. After you have got enough info on this job ..(salary) and if you get full time or if it will last more than a year ,yous hould go from there. Sometimes when jobs just come to you it may be for a good reason. Just do some studyin about this job. Since you are a mother I think maybe you should try this job and if you can finish off schooling or not. Getting this job , your child will get more time to spend with you cause thats important aswell.
Good Luck. These are just opinions but go with gut feelings

Take the job!,, Take the job!!

Postby John Mastro » Sat Feb 26, 2005 8:51 am

I agree with Dave and Doug that the degree is not going to help you much, and the job offers are a rare opportunity not to be passed up. Job experience is what is valued by employers, not Physics degrees from no name colleges. I cannot imagine such a degree carrying any weight at all. A degree in physics even from a top tier university seems to be a huge waste, as employers value it so little, at least from all my years in universities and hanging on science forums. Maybe at some point after getting the job experience you can part time it to an associates or bs. If your thing is data management, or some other function, regulatory, management, support, it is hard to imagion how knowlege of physics will be directly helpful to you. Knowedge of science is ok, but as a doctorate holder who looked into getting into biotechs, too much knowledge seems to be less desirable. Get your foot back into the door, and then consider what education options you need to expand your interests and marketability. The value of the high faluting University degrees is overvalued, and now that you have a child to support I would suggest taking a more practical bird in the hand approach.
John Mastro

Where to go from here

Postby Val » Sat Feb 26, 2005 6:03 pm


Has it ever happened to you that you had to go in one night to two parties starting one after another ? You had fun at the first party, then you decided to go to the second party in order not to miss on the expected fun -- and wham ! -- the second party was a boring dud ? In my experience, if something good was happening to me at one place, it never repeated itself in another ! So I worked out a rule for myself: "If I feel good at one place, I do not go to another". Here I am talking about your "good biotech job" now and the "opportunities after BS in Physics" afterwards.

There is another aspect for you to look at. In the mid- and end-1990s, the IT business hired a lot and paid big bucks. I knew of a guy who got hired into IT straight after his high school, he made progress and was enjoying his high salary. However, his mother insisted that he went to uni and got his CS degree. He saw no need for that, and reluctantly agreed. Then the bust in IT came, a considerable fraction of IT workers in Australia could not find jobs. He was glad that by that time he had gotten his degree, for it allowed him to get hired ahead of degree-less peers.

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