Q. The department I work in is very competitive. All my colleagues, for instance, either have master’s degrees or are pursuing one besides taking various short courses on the side. I feel under pressure because I only have a degree.
I would like to enrol for a master’s but my many financial obligations won’t allow me. I am stressed, but I don’t know how to manage this anxiety.
You must make a distinction between academic qualification and the competence to get the work done. It Is a good feeling to have academic papers, but that does not necessarily make one a better employee.
Prerequisite qualification required for the role and productivity is what is considered when there is an opportunity for promotion. Self-advancement should be for your own good, not a competition between you and your peers.
I have seen employees rush to acquire a master’s degree even when it’s not a requirement in their current role, while some enrol for it as soon as they complete their first degree before they experience the world of work. This then becomes just an academic qualification since during the master’s program, their participation is limited due to the fact that they lack industry knowledge.
An advanced degree is most useful if you have defined your career goals, since it should be a more practical programme than the degree. Is there a performance gap arising from your lack of master’s degree? If there isn’t, then it’s not necessary for your current role.
Some employees demand promotions and salary reviews even before the ink on their master’s certificate dries up, only to get frustrated when the organisation does not recognise their newly acquired certification. In such cases, more often than not, the new certificate does not enhance their performance.
My advice would be that you identify your skills gap with the assistance of your supervisor, the aim to identify a professional course that can address them. Your organisation might be willing to sponsor you since the course is focused on your current profession, meaning that the impact on your performance will be felt immediately.
A master’s degree will eventually be important as you progress in your career, so I suggest that you begin to save and plan for one to avoid putting pressure on yourself.
The overly competitive environment you are currently working in is not conducive, and in the long run might adversely affect your performance unless you make a decision to run your own race besides having a defined plan for your academic progression within your financial ability.