kemuii
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#1
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#1
I am very lost in my decision-making at the moment and would love anyone's thoughts and advice on my situation; I'll be as brief as possible:

My background:

- Finished an MSc at LSE in sustainable development 2 years ago with somewhat good grades (distinction).
- Have a background in Geography and Economics, but I'm looking to improve my technical skills, e.g. mapping, environmental analysis, etc., nothing which I learned at LSE (my MSc was very policy-oriented).
- Have just received an offer for an MSc in Applied Ecology in Europe from a relatively unknown university with a full scholarship (2 years).
- This program would definitely provide me all the technical skills I need to get into more applied/on-the-field environmental analysis work; and my academic supervisor seems to be doing exactly the research that I'm very interested in.
- However, perhaps with my current MSc from LSE, I could transition directly into a more a technical PhD or gain the technical skills at work.
- Am currently working with an environmental consultancy in Latin America. It's satisfying work but not my passion; too much economics/policy and too little field and technical experience.

My questions:

1) Should I continue working in a job that is not my passion and look for other job opportunities where I could learn more technical skills on-the-job? (I'm worried I would be underqualified to find more technical positions without the proper background);
2) Should I take the 2nd Master's to provide me with the technical skills needed to transition to a job I would be more passionate about? (I'm worried a 2nd Master's will make me seem unfocused if I want to pursue a PhD one day, or will make me seem too academic if I want to enter the workforce again. I would be 30 when I finish with around 4 years of combined work experience);
3) Should I stay on the job, skip the 2nd Master's, and apply to a PhD directly in a few years (I'm worried admissions will consider my lack of a technical background as a major drawback for more applied/technical environmental PhD programs).

Thank you all for your help and suggestions; I would really appreciate it!
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Josb
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(Original post by kemuii)
I'm worried a 2nd Master's will make me seem unfocused if I want to pursue a PhD one day
I can only say that it won't harm your application for a PhD.
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poohat
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If you have already a MSc from LSE then getting a new degree from some third tier place isnt likely to help your CV. People tend to read from the top down, and the first question I would have would be "why couldnt they get in somewhere good the second time around?".

The exception would be if the second MSc was very vocational and would lead directly to the job you are interested in, or if the bad university was one of the best ones in your home country (in which case you would have a reason to go there).

The real question, of course, is "what do you actually want to do?"
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Nathanielle
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I would try the first option. LSE is a uni with some connections and a certain reputation, so you should find something. At the end, I would prefer doing a 6 month or longer internship to acquire the skills, than another two years degree, where you don't really know, what to expect. Of course an internship is not allways, that cool, but not that uncommun and providing you with more hands-on experience, which is what you will need. Another option or in addition you can look for PHDs with has course work as part of their degree(or simply the possibility to do so), so you can update your technical background. Summerschools might be another option.

My reason for that is: professional experience is outside academia often, what matters most, so it is wise to get a lot of it early, if you have the chance.
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BnThereDnThat
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(Original post by kemuii)
I am very lost in my decision-making at the moment and would love anyone's thoughts and advice on my situation; I'll be as brief as possible:

My background:

- Finished an MSc at LSE in sustainable development 2 years ago with somewhat good grades (distinction).
- Have a background in Geography and Economics, but I'm looking to improve my technical skills, e.g. mapping, environmental analysis, etc., nothing which I learned at LSE (my MSc was very policy-oriented).
- Have just received an offer for an MSc in Applied Ecology in Europe from a relatively unknown university with a full scholarship (2 years).
- This program would definitely provide me all the technical skills I need to get into more applied/on-the-field environmental analysis work; and my academic supervisor seems to be doing exactly the research that I'm very interested in.
- However, perhaps with my current MSc from LSE, I could transition directly into a more a technical PhD or gain the technical skills at work.
- Am currently working with an environmental consultancy in Latin America. It's satisfying work but not my passion; too much economics/policy and too little field and technical experience.

My questions:

1) Should I continue working in a job that is not my passion and look for other job opportunities where I could learn more technical skills on-the-job? (I'm worried I would be underqualified to find more technical positions without the proper background);
2) Should I take the 2nd Master's to provide me with the technical skills needed to transition to a job I would be more passionate about? (I'm worried a 2nd Master's will make me seem unfocused if I want to pursue a PhD one day, or will make me seem too academic if I want to enter the workforce again. I would be 30 when I finish with around 4 years of combined work experience);
3) Should I stay on the job, skip the 2nd Master's, and apply to a PhD directly in a few years (I'm worried admissions will consider my lack of a technical background as a major drawback for more applied/technical environmental PhD programs).

Thank you all for your help and suggestions; I would really appreciate it!
A 2nd Master is rarely a good idea in my view- I don't think it adds much. I'd stay on the job and apply for the PhD. If you lack applied/technical environmental background then either try to find short courses that deal with the subject to supplement your background or try to find a job that would give you the background.
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kemuii
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(Original post by Josb)
I can only say that it won't harm your application for a PhD.
That's good to hear; thanks!

(Original post by poohat)
If you have already a MSc from LSE then getting a new degree from some third tier place isnt likely to help your CV. People tend to read from the top down, and the first question I would have would be "why couldnt they get in somewhere good the second time around?".

The exception would be if the second MSc was very vocational and would lead directly to the job you are interested in, or if the bad university was one of the best ones in your home country (in which case you would have a reason to go there).

The real question, of course, is "what do you actually want to do?"
That's a very good point thanks. This MSc would be quite vocational in that I think I could transition into more technical jobs (GIS, environmental quality analysis, soil monitoring, etc.) directly after graduation.

(Original post by Nathanielle)
I would try the first option. LSE is a uni with some connections and a certain reputation, so you should find something. At the end, I would prefer doing a 6 month or longer internship to acquire the skills, than another two years degree, where you don't really know, what to expect. Of course an internship is not allways, that cool, but not that uncommun and providing you with more hands-on experience, which is what you will need. Another option or in addition you can look for PHDs with has course work as part of their degree(or simply the possibility to do so), so you can update your technical background. Summerschools might be another option.

My reason for that is: professional experience is outside academia often, what matters most, so it is wise to get a lot of it early, if you have the chance.
Great thoughts; thanks. LSE does have a huge alumni network, and there are jobs posted there very frequently. Only issue is that most of the jobs are either very economics, finance or policy-oriented, the areas which I'm trying to get away from (despite my background in economics). PhDs with coursework would be an excellent option; though I'm not sure how easy it would be to secure funding for these.

(Original post by BnThereDnThat)
A 2nd Master is rarely a good idea in my view- I don't think it adds much. I'd stay on the job and apply for the PhD. If you lack applied/technical environmental background then either try to find short courses that deal with the subject to supplement your background or try to find a job that would give you the background.
Valid point; thanks! I have my eyes on some short applied courses too, mainly in the US, but they are horrendously expensive. Another job is certainly an option and I'm keeping my eyes out, though I fear my lack of current technical expertise in the areas which interest me (environmental monitoring, quality analysis, etc.) will exclude me directly from the competition.

Even though I'm still very much drawn to the Master's given that it's fully-funded, maybe an eventual PhD is just as good or a better option. I'm slightly worried about securing funding for these, as well as not having a clear research topic in mind yet, which may take me years to come across. A Master's in that sense is slightly more flexible and that my research/dissertation will only last 6-8 months rather than 3-4 years and that I could discover what I would like to research in a PhD later on.
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madamemerle
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(Original post by kemuii)
That's good to hear; thanks!


That's a very good point thanks. This MSc would be quite vocational in that I think I could transition into more technical jobs (GIS, environmental quality analysis, soil monitoring, etc.) directly after graduation.


Great thoughts; thanks. LSE does have a huge alumni network, and there are jobs posted there very frequently. Only issue is that most of the jobs are either very economics, finance or policy-oriented, the areas which I'm trying to get away from (despite my background in economics). PhDs with coursework would be an excellent option; though I'm not sure how easy it would be to secure funding for these.


Valid point; thanks! I have my eyes on some short applied courses too, mainly in the US, but they are horrendously expensive. Another job is certainly an option and I'm keeping my eyes out, though I fear my lack of current technical expertise in the areas which interest me (environmental monitoring, quality analysis, etc.) will exclude me directly from the competition.

Even though I'm still very much drawn to the Master's given that it's fully-funded, maybe an eventual PhD is just as good or a better option. I'm slightly worried about securing funding for these, as well as not having a clear research topic in mind yet, which may take me years to come across. A Master's in that sense is slightly more flexible and that my research/dissertation will only last 6-8 months rather than 3-4 years and that I could discover what I would like to research in a PhD later on.
Do you want to work in academia? If not, in the industry you want to be in is there a difference between what can be achieved by those with an MSc vs a PhD? Those really should be the biggest issues, I'd say. You have a funded Master's offer, if that will allow you to do the work you want to do, without limiting advancement later on, then it would seem silly not to take the opportunity. There are absolutely no guarantees you'll get a funded PhD, so unless you really need a doctorate (or really want it and are willing to risk missing out on this funding) then it seems more sensible to take the Master's.

This 'prestige' thing is no way near as simple as it's being presented above. What's your sense of the way your industry weighs these things? From your post, I get the sense that what's valued is technical skills and a qualification that can attest to those skills, where it comes from being not massively important...if that's the case, then you should follow the funding. Even if "name recognition" is important,what that means can vary widely among fields and industries; GIS professionals and the like probably have a good sense of where is strong in their field, and that list is unlikely to map straight on to poohat's perceived 'prestige' ranking, or the general perception of uni rankings that float around.
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beautifulbigmacs
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Nowt wrong with a second masters. I'm doing one myself and know others in the same boat. If it is funded I would jump at the opportunity, especially if that's what you're passionate about.
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