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Getting a Master’s Degree While Working Full Time

Pursuing higher education, especially after you’ve already entered the workforce, is a difficult decision.  You have every right to feel nervous.  The best advice I can give you is this: Do it anyways, despite the nerves.

One of my favorite Kentucky authors, Wendell Berry, said, “Always in the big woods when you leave familiar ground and step off alone into a new place there will be, along with the feelings of curiosity and excitement, a little nagging of dread. It is the ancient fear of the Unknown, and it is your first bond with the wilderness you are going into.”  Returning to school is a challenge; but, it is a challenge worth taking even if there is an unknown.  

I struggled with nerves as I eagerly awaited the first day of class.  I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance work and school, let alone have a social life.  Despite waiting three years to return to school to earn my communication graduate degree, I was surprised at how quickly I got back into the swing of things.

Those who decide to pursue a graduate degree – more often than not – thrive on learning and growing.  My passion for learning motivated me to take the next step in my education.  This passion also kept me on track throughout the communication graduate program.  Even after a tough day at work, I was excited to login to my class discussion to apply each week’s readings and engage with classmates.  The discussions consistently challenged me to think differently and, many times, the discussions taught me more than the readings themselves.  

I’m writing this post ten classes later.  I completed my communications graduate degree, and I can officially call myself a Purdue alumnus.  So, do I regret doing it?  Absolutely not.  I learned more in the past year and a half than I thought possible.  The online MS Communication program combines theory with practical learning, making the transition back to school easier than you’d imagine.  I regularly brought concepts learned in class back to the office, and I now have a thorough understanding of strategic communication theory that I will carry with me throughout my career. More importantly, I learned I’m capable of achieving the goals I set for myself.  Now I find myself simply wondering what unknown I will pursue next.  

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Jane Siggelko recently complete Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.

About the Author
Jane Siggelko is an Associate Account Executive at Kellen, a global management and communications company serving trade associations, professional societies and charitable organizations worldwide. Jane has more than four years of experience in program management, marketing and communications, and currently serves as Manager of Programs and Services for the Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. She is passionate about growing nonprofit organizations’ programs and operations in an effort to increase their impact on individuals and on communities.  Jane graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Arts in English and completed her last course of the Master of Science in Communication from Purdue University in August 2016.

*The views and opinions expressed are of the author and do not represent the Brian Lamb School of Communication.