You survived the undergraduate process, and now you’re ready to further—or change—your career. A great means to that end is graduate school. If you’re like many people considering this fairly momentous decision, you’re probably wondering what the experience is like. Often, it helps to talk to someone who’s been there. So that’s what we did.
Name: Danielle Dulchinos
Graduate school: University of Massachusetts Boston (UMass Boston, UMB)
Degree: Master of Education (MEd) in Instructional Design
Duration: January 2013 to present
Full or part time: Part-time
In person, online, or both: Both; intro classes were in person but most other classes are online only or a hybrid (asynchronous with several face-to-face or synchronous virtual meetings)
Current occupation: Operations Lead and Learning Associate, BIA (Business Intelligence Advisors)
Why grad school?
I wanted a challenge. I missed school, and I missed learning. I always knew I wanted an advanced degree, but I didn’t know which one for a long time.
How did you find the right program for you?
I have always loved education and teaching, but I discovered, thanks to a co-op at Northeastern (my undergraduate institution), that K-12 education was not the right fit for me. Years later, through my volunteer work as a volunteer training facilitator with Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, I discovered that there were programs specifically dedicated to designing and delivering instruction to adults.
Did you study something different from what you studied in undergrad, and if so, why?
Yes. I was a journalism undergrad but I realized that the news life was not for me.
What were some of the biggest differences you noticed between your undergraduate and graduate studies?
The atmospheres of the schools are completely different. UMB, especially the Continuing and Professional Studies school my program falls under, is a much more diverse mix of students. There’s people like me, trying to build a theoretical foundation early in their careers to help steer their path, and then there’s people who are much later in their careers looking for a huge shift.
Did you hold a job during grad school? If so, how did you manage your schedule?
Yes, full time. Taking advantage of my commute is key; I do most of my reading and project work on the train to and from Boston during the week. Plus, I try to schedule a few hours on Saturday mornings to wrap up any outstanding assignments for the week so I can take Sundays off.
What effect did attending graduate school have on your career?
So far, pursuing my degree helped support a request for a promotion at work, in addition to increased responsibilities related to our company’s training and development goals.
What would you do differently?
What advice can you offer students pursuing a similar program?
If you’re not sure that a full master’s program is right for you, see if there is a certificate program available instead.
Bonus question! What was your favorite class and why?
Online Design and Development, because there’s a good mix of theory and practice. Plus, it’s helping confirm that I want to keep moving into an eLearning specialization.