June 1, 2004
To a Degree
Q: I am a middle-aged woman with a master’s in human resources and a securities series 7 license, which are both not being put to good use. I have been underemployed for years. I get a new position, give 100% of myself, and shortly after, I am bored. I also feel frustration when I have to report to, and through many layers of, supervisors, vice presidents, etc. who aren’t that bright. Admittedly, I was mistaken by getting my master’s in a field I wasn’t in and thinking that would give me an edge. I realize after 30 years that I am not corporate America material. Do you think entrepreneurship is the next direction I should go in?
— Via the Internet, New York City
A: Entrepreneurship can be a rewarding path, but it requires discipline that not everyone is equipped to handle. After proper research on the area of your choice, only you can make that decision.
I would never agree that a degree in an area outside of one’s work experience is a mistake. Too often, we look at the degree as the vehicle to our success, when we should be concentrating on the education earned and what that can contribute to our growth as professionals. In the 30 years that you’ve worked — even in the most frustrating situations — there are skills that you have acquired. It’s your skills that make you a valuable employee. That’s what you have to sell to an employer, not only when you’re interviewing, but in every position you have within a company. If you find that you are continually getting blocked, you have to do better due diligence on a company before you sign on. What is the division’s expected growth? What promotion opportunities are there? Is the company a group-think operation, or are they looking for enterprising, independent thinkers?