Q.  I’m graduating with in December and am trying to decide if I want to go to graduate school or accept an entry-level job at a major company.  The general office job is not related to my communication degree, but my would-be boss says transfers often happen within the company.  Is it a good idea to take a job or focus on getting a graduate degree that buys time for the economy to improve and give me a greater chance of finding a PR position which is my real goal?  -AP

A.  Take the job.  Once you get settled into the corporate job, you have more options for your future career.  Most corporations will help pay for your graduate degree (many pay up to 100% if related to your job), plus your boss sounds willing to keep his/her eye out for other opportunities for you.  When you fill out the official employment application be sure to mention your career interests.  When I managed corporate communications at Lilly and needed to hire someone to work with pharmaceutical trade press, I wanted to find someone from within the company who might have expressed interest in working in PR.   I asked the HR director to survey employment applications for such an individual.  Out of more than 30,000 employees only one application emerged–and that individual was quickly interviewed and hired.  His previous experience with the company allowed him to hit the ground running in his new job.

Working for a year or two before pursuing your graduate degree is highly recommended, even by most educators.  Spending some time in the workplace allows you to better determine the focus of your next degree.  Your focus for an advanced degree will likely shift after you gain insights through a full-time job.  You may want to pursue a specific focus area within communication, or you may decide to seek a business degree.  Congratulations on the job and good luck with your career.