Education versus Industry?

It is the twelfth week of this internship. We officially have two weeks left to finish up our deliverables, the report, and the poster. And now that I’m also beginning the preparations for this school year, I find myself reflecting on my work ethic and what I enjoy.

(But first, a sneak peek at the smoothie cup sticker I designed for YOU:)

Smoothie cup sticker for YOUgurt smoothies. I’m just over the moon that all of our efforts this summer have accumulated into actual branding and promotional materials for this product!

I have always anticipated going into grad school. And I will! I will at least complete a master’s degree; the programs I’m looking into at the Toronto Met for communications are super exciting and are going to enhance my English degree so nicely. The question for me, now, is whether that continues into a PhD program for English afterwards. I’ve always wanted to; I’ve always enjoyed academia and I’d be the first D’Entremont AND the first Smith to have a doctorate.

But academia is a very different work lifestyle than normal work. My time in undergrad has been no joke: even when you’re passionate about your area of study, the late nights, the constant critical thinking that pushes at the boundaries of your brain, and the labour of – in my case as an English student – poring through texts and making precise and effective references can wear you right out. Especially when it’s a project that you’re less than thrilled about. At the graduate level, you’re hopefully working with topics that you enjoy most and want to pursue, but the workload will still be significantly heavier, and the outcomes of your work much more significant.

I admit that some portion of my desire to go into all levels of grad school was motivated by my lack of familiarity with work and industry outside of education. When you enjoy your academics and have seen little of what work is like outside, it feels like the safest option.

This internship, however, has given me a great glimpse into what the non-education industry is like. There’s still so much freedom – at least at this level – to plan your own projects and make your own original contributions to the world, but the days are not quite so long and the demand takes a different form. Sometimes you have to learn new skills or bases of knowledge to complete a job properly, but oftentimes in the workforce, there will be other people in similar positions to yours that may have this knowledge and can help out. The demands will often be in the form of meetings and quarterlies and team management, as opposed to intense research and drawing never-before-seen literary connections. The workforce is more about coming to the table as an expert in your area and being an equal to others, where at grad school, you are working harder every day to learn that you don’t know quite as much as you thought.

They are two distinct lifestyles. And I’ve found I like both.

I’ve become so much more open to working in the marketing industry now. Many of my career plans have shifted to include how much time I’ll spend in industry and what life milestones I want to achieve through that career path. A PhD is looking less and less likely, and while I’m not upset about this revelation, it is still an option, and I’m becoming more okay with the idea that it doesn’t need to happen immediately. I can get my Master’s, and if I really enjoyed grad school and I’m certain I want a PhD, I can determine whether I want to do it immediately, or if I want to spend some time making money in the industry and enjoying myself there before I move back into academia.

At the end of the day, I am open to wherever life takes me, and that’s what is important to me.

Western Heads East has opened a lot of doors for me, and I’m excited to see where they lead.

(One of which may be another position with YOU!!! I’m so excited!!)


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