Education vs. Experience

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Comments (3)

LMCH in Pittsburg, Kansas

51 months ago

Hello. I am halfway through an MA in English with an emphasis in Technical and Professional Writing. My undergrad degree was also in English with an emphasis in Technical Writing, at the same university where I'm working on my Masters. I chose to stay at my university because the department has always been supportive, but I am having some problems with my program and I'm seeking some advice on what my best course of action is.

There seem to be no courses available in TW that I didn't already take in my undergrad, because they are offered concurrently at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. My department's response has been to require me to fill my "electives" slots with lit courses. I took my first TW course of the program this semester.

My schedule for next semester involves a professional internship and two lit courses. When I graduate with this degree, I will have had a total of three TW courses, if you choose to count my thesis course and internship. I will be able to intelligently discuss Alexander Pope, women in Medieval Literature, and the British Romantic poets, but I worry that I will also be essentially two years behind the market in an effort to get ahead.

My question is this: Is all this worth the diploma? Would I be better served either a)finding a job in the field and building experience rather than finishing the degree, or b)transferring my credits to another university in hopes of getting some actual TW instruction? There are personal considerations that make the second option difficult, but it can be done if necessary.

I appreciate any and all feedback.

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Michael323 in Baltimore, Maryland

50 months ago

The program you're in seems pretty thin on the technical side. Can you add courses from areas like systems analysis and design, instructional design, or communications media?

Maybe it's possible that you could take some courses online from some other institution and transfer them into your program, but I have no specific suggestions.

The professional internship is certainly worthwhile, but if real job comes up, that might be a better choice than spending time on elective courses and a low-paying or unpaid internship.

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Techone in Portland, Oregon

50 months ago

First of all, decide if your true interests and goals are technical writing.

If so, your MA program is very weak for tech writing. You do not need an MA for a tech writing job.

Consider pushing off MA until you know exactly what you want from it. After working awhile as a tech writer, you may decide to get an MA in another field.

I believe there may be tech writing MA programs out there now that would be of better value.

Also, many companies still pay for education. After working for a company for awhile, they may pay for your degree.

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