What nots of a former coffee house guy

Welcome to random bon mots from a guy that used to own the best darn coffee house in Union City, CA

Monday, March 12, 2012

Career Advice

We are flattered that our colleagues and the students that study at Paddy's, ask us for an opinion :) Of late, one of the most requested questions is, Should we continue with grad school or take a break, go to work and then pursue grad school ?

We are of the school of thought that when you are academically fresh, then continue and finish off all academic requirements and then get into the professional work force. We knew the students are saddled with debt, but our reasoning was, if you take a break, then a whole new life opens up and there are a lot of distractions. Once these distractions enter your day to day life, it will become difficult to bring your focus back on academia.

The other school of thought opines that a break from academia is good. It will rejuvenate your thought process and allow you to pay off some debt.

We have seen examples of both schools at Paddy's. Students continuing all the way to phd's etc, and then entering the work force. And we have also seen students who have taken a break, entered the work force, worked for a few years, and then plunging back into academia either full time or part time. In both schools, we have seen the joys and the frustrations.

Would like to hear from all of you who have walked this course of life. Pretty sure there are students reading this who would value your thoughts and opinions.


  1. I pursued graduate studies in Education because I wanted to understand how theories were tied into teaching methodologies. I also wanted to become well versed in research for the purpose of fully assessing my students' needs every year. These were the few goals that I wanted to achieve through graduate school. The outcome is a $60,000 debt that I have over the next ten years, but an education that I will have no regrets of pursuing. I walked away with knowledge that has helped me grow as an educator. Now, I am more motivated to pursue my Education Doctorate Degree because I miss the academia that really speaks to transforming education for the urban youth. With these examples, pursue graduate school because you have a true passion for it and your doors will open to many opportunities!

  2. I took a year off from school after my BA and ten years later it became very hard for me to be motivated again. I take a class or two at night to finish my masters as I work full time. My advice is continue taking night classes if you need to work. Apply for scholarships or find out if your job has educational incentives.

  3. Thank you so much for your thoughts and advice. We will be sharing it with the students who were in a bind. Often times, as an elder (yup, we are getting old), it is painful to watch the struggles developing with the youth, and all we want to do is guide them properly. Thank you once again, for both your comments.

  4. Ahh...this is becoming more and more of a topic nowadays, especially here in the Valley. Here are my thoughts:

    My background: Graduated from UC Irvine, and got my MBA from University of Phoenix (not the online course). First...if you want to pursue an advanced degree, don't do it unless you are really going to commit to it. Like the person who first posted said, the debt incurred is pretty substantial. While I don't regret it either, it's not something you really want to be half-assed about. It's a very big commitment and it WILL take a lot of your free time. It's similar to married life...lol

    Now with that being said, for you young bucks out there looking to make $$$ here in Silicon Valley, let me be straightforward. If you think that you'll end up at Google or Facebook and start making $85 grand a year right out of college, don't count on it. First, there are thousands of people looking for that job. On top of that, the people you are competing with more than likely have more experience and a better degree than you do. I'm not going to candy coat it. Silicon Valley is in a hiring boom, but companies aren't hiring just any joe shmoe. They want the best talent. And more than likely, they'll steal talent from Google or Yahoo before they decide to hire you. This is not to say that you don't have a chance and that you shouldn't try. Hell, I think I've been rejected about 10 times from Google. But instead of going for that 1 big fish, look at other companies. Get a starter position, get the experience under your belt and keep trying for Google. Btw, companies like Google and Facebook work you very hard. So matter what you see in the movies, those guys work like dogs. Work hard, play hard.

    Next...the "I don't have to go to college to be successful" ala "I'm going to be the next Zuckerberg". I'm not going to say that it's not possible. BUT keep in mind that guys who did not go to college (Zuck, Gates, Jobs,David Carson, etc) were ridiculously brilliant. Not to say that you're not. For all I know you could invent the next big thing. But don't count on that. Remember, you're not the only one trying to make it big in the world. If you are ridiculously brilliant, hit me up and I'll send you my resume.

    Lastly (I've rambled long enough), study or look for a job/career that you are passionate about. For you Filipinos out there (myself included) we're always being pushed to be a nurse, doctor, or engineer. As much as you should respect your parents (I myself rebelled..lol), doing what YOU want to do is more important. That is the one regret I have in life, and although I do have a good enough job, I would rather be doing something else. So find your passion, and stick with it. Going back to the whole college education thing...while I think that it's important to have at least a BA degree...there's no law that says you have to finish it right after high school. I myself believe that commitment to education is more important than "rushing" to finish in 4 years. My cousin took time off after highschool, and during that time he worked on script writing and directing. Nearly 15 years later he graduated from CSULA. After that, he landed his dream job: working as a writer for Disney. Moral of the story: You're dream job will always be there whether or not you find it now, or later.

    Good luck!
    Christian aka "quad americano with a blueberry scone"

  5. Ah, quite a puzzle. A bit of background, I'll try to keep it brief. I was in college in the early '70's and admittedly drifting along. It may have been a great thing in hindsight. When I came out (yeah in that sense) my parents stopped funding my college. Now, I adore my parents, we kept talking, kept communicating and they became my strongest fans.

    But at that time no more college.

    I remember thinking literally "this won't stop me!" so I found an apartment, a job as a dishwasher and kept going. At first it was back to community college getting requirements out of the way. Gradually I got enough to transfer to CCA. I was driven to keep going.

    Going to school full time while working was tough especially working in a kitchen. My G*d it was exhausting. Even there I was getting better and better jobs eventually being an assistant chef in one of the Bay Areas best gourmet joints ;-)

    Again shortly before graduation life again interfered and I left college still without a degree.

    Years later I am now employed with a company that gives a tuition benefit but that may end shortly. I will reach my goal but may be the oldest living BA recipient when I do ;-)

    So the first thing I would advise is never ever ever ever stop learning. Take classes wherever and whenever you can. Search certifications, the next degree, keep your eyes on the horizon and your goal. Just keep going because you never know when life will try to stop you. Don't let it.

    On one hand with the economy struggling one could feel a good place to be is in school. What goes down must come up. As the economy recovers there you'll be with a degree.

    But you also could have massive crushing student debt and there is no promise that a degree, even advanced will guarantee a high salary.

    We can't all land a job in a company with a tuition benefit but there are many out there that give that. I would look for that and try reduce your tuition expenses. It's hard to work and study but can be done if you're organized and determined.

    Good luck!