Q: I have a general arts degree and have been working for five years. I am now considering doing another degree. Is it true that having two degrees would double one's career prospects? In which discipline should my second degree be so that I will become more marketable?
A: In our quest for career advancement, many of us see the value of expanding our knowledge base and skill sets. This can be achieved through various means depending on your learning preferences, like reading, experiential learning through on-the-job coaching or even in a dialogue with colleagues.
A more formal source of knowledge acquisition is through structured learning, such as attending courses and accredited programmes, as well as attaining academic qualifications.
It would be too simplistic to conclude that the more qualifications we hold, the higher the certainty of career success. As choosing the academic option requires a huge commitment of time and finance, we should consider the following factors: Relevance of knowledge and how it adds value to your careers goals as perceived by your current and future employers; credibility and recognition of the academic institution in the subject matter, and opportunities to form strong alumni relationships.
Before you commit yourself to the academic route, the key questions you should ask yourself are:
1. What is my career aspiration?
2. What are my current competency gaps in relation to my career goals?
3. Which programme best suits my needs?
For example, if you aspire to take on a leadership position, then perhaps a degree in general management may be suitable. If you intend to move into a different career track - like switching from marketing to logistics - then perhaps you should consider a programme to equip you with the specialist knowledge for a career move.
As individuals progress in their career, people-management and leadership skills become more critical.
Beyond acquiring functional competencies through the academic pathway, it is important to build personal mastery and leadership capabilities. Studies indicate that there are four critical performance factors that predict one's potential as an exceptional leader: The ability to take initiative in a business unit; decision-making efficiency; inspirational accountability and teamwork, and the willingness to take appropriate risks.
Ultimately, we hope that our career goals lead to personal success.
Perhaps what is important is doing work that we have a passion for.
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