I completed a master of arts degree in education. My thesis focused on preparing students for asynchronous video interviews in the hiring process.
Hands Down – This Was the Most Difficult Thing I’ve Ever Done!
What is that word you use to describe something you love and hate at the same time?! Oh yeah, ambivalence!
Ambivalence is the way I’d describe my feelings towards writing my master’s thesis. There. I said it!
Why did I hate it?
Because it shined a bright light on my weaknesses!
I procrastinate and I have a short attention span. I’m a slow processor, a slow reader, and a slow writer. And when it comes to writing, I can’t seem to stop myself from writing in the passive voice, which means I spend a LOT of time editing! I don’t enjoy writing in an academic voice – it’s missing personality, but I guess that’s the point.
So when you have to spend a lot of time doing something you’re not good at or that you don’t enjoy – well, you get what I’m trying to say.
But wait, there’s more!
I’m “statistics-challenged” – in fact, I had to redo my Results chapter. That meant weeks of wasted time and having to redo all my calculations, all my tables, and more than 26 pages of writing.
It’s not like I didn’t have the right support either. I took statistics in my undergrad, I took the advanced research methods course in grad school, and I have supervisors with the patience of a saint. I guess mental laziness caused me to tune out when I should have been leaning in – another weakness!
Well then, why did I put myself through this exercise in torture? Because I also love it!
Why did I love it?
To contradict myself – because it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done!
Actually, for the same reasons I loved the challenge of completing my undergraduate degree – especially as a mature student. There’s a part in my video resume where I talk about why getting my degree meant so much to me:
“It’s not the degree itself, it’s what it represented to me: the importance of perseverance, commitment, a positive attitude, and the resulting self-confidence that it gave me.” (0:20)
All of those things were important to me then and are important to me now – but not only for me. It’s also important that I set a good example for my son, my nieces and nephews, my students, and anyone else who might look to me for mentorship and guidance.
I almost dropped out!
I’m not suggesting that finishing what you start is always an option or even the best decision – just read The Dip, by Seth Godin. In fact, I almost had to drop out on more than one occasion because I couldn’t pay my tuition. I’ve been rescued several times in that regard, and I look forward to the time when I can pay it forward to another struggling student.
Serendipity – Don’t you just love that word?
One of the serendipitous outcomes of sticking with grad school was being invited to participate in a video series with CMA NXT – a platform designed by the Canadian Marketing Association to help new graduates and job seekers market themselves.
Literally, within days of paying my outstanding tuition and continuing with my studies, the opportunity was presented to me. I was invited to showcase some of the highlights from my research including what asynchronous video interviews are and how peer and self assessment of video interviews can help students improve their communication skills.
You can check out one of the videos at the top of this page and the rest of the series by signing up with CMA NXT – it’s free!
Testing the Researcher Waters
Being a grad student also presented me with the opportunity to be a research assistant. Working under my thesis supervisor, I was involved with a community-based research project with the Region of Durham.
That experience was instrumental in preparing me for my own research by exposing me to what was involved in the research process, in facilitating focus groups, and in coding large amounts of data.
Oh, and I also got a temporary free license to the costly NVivo software! Ok, now I’m just geeking out.
What were we talking about again?
More Thesis Love
Another reason why I loved writing my thesis was because what I was researching and writing about was relevant! Psst – I designed it that way. Everything I was learning corresponded directly to what I was promoting and teaching in my business: how you can develop your video communication skills, and more importantly, why it matters.
My Bottom Line on Grad School
It may sound fancy to tell people you have a master’s degree or you’re writing a thesis, but let’s face it, it’s a lot of hard work – AND you have to pay to do it!
Your motivation can’t be only extrinsic. Do it for the intangibles that help you grow as a person. Do it for who you can help with what you’re learning. Because when the going gets tough, and it will, you’ll need a purpose outside of bragging rights.
And newsflash – a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!
You know what does guarantee you a job? When you create your own!
Hey, do you like my segue to Solopreneur?! Genius!