Dorothy Beach, Talent Sourcer here, still headhunting executives for Kimberly-Clark but wondering about my choices in educating myself.
There is a lot of talk about ROI for time and money in getting a college degree and maybe other degrees as well. I think about this a lot, looking back on the three degrees that I have – BA in Education, MS in Biochemistry and an MBA. Let me explain some of the reasons for doing three degrees first…
I went into a pre-Medical program at what is now St. Peter’s University out of high school which required a double major in biology and chemistry at that time. By end of sophomore year I knew my grades were not good enough for medical school submission despite the lean towards encouraging women to apply. I then switched to an Education program at what is now Rider University, taking a Comprehensive Teacher’s certificate for NJ. However the market for teachers, nationwide was poor – and persisted for some years after I graduated. With that reality I took my first basic science research job and loved it. After three years of that on the academic side I thought to do my graduate degree in Biochemistry feeling it would open doors to the private sector. Realize that this was a full time commitment with a small stipend for two solid years. However it took five years after getting my MS to get a private sector job in pharmaceuticals with then Merrell Dow but the MS helped with getting that and certainly previous academic job experience allowed me to be successful in it.
As a scientist in the corporate world you come to realize that business knowledge can help with understanding project work and its direction. In my forties I decided to work on an MBA to take my first courses in business. I was with Procter & Gamble (Pharma Division) at the time and the company would pay for it as long as I pulled at least a “B” per class. Going to school part time while working full time, I graduated in three years. Yet the outcome at work as a basic research scientist was not going to play out. The career path just didn’t ask for business knowledge although I could see many applications of good business process to our work at the bench and with strategy. I switched to Product Development or applied science within the Snack Division and quickly learned my MBA was very applicable in that job. Sadly it lasted only 2.5 years before my layoff.
From this description which degree do you think paid off in time and money? I would rank the MS first despite the lost income for two years, because it allowed me to enter the private sector and gave me some career advancement with some application to my current job as a headhunter for engineers and scientists. The MBA comes in second since it only applied when I went into product development and sometimes in my current job as an Executive Recruiter. The Education degree came in last simply because the market for inexperienced teachers was so bad in the 1970s. I ranked them according to income earned, career potential and cross-knowledge transfer in the jobs I had.
What is your opinion on this – do you think degree ROI should be based on these parameters? How can we make this process forward looking rather than backward looking?