When determining the characteristics of your dream employer, the degree to which they value continued education is an important factor to consider. In my experience, the most common definition of continued education is earning advanced degrees, but I would argue that many other initiatives fall under this umbrella as well. So, whether or not you are interested in pursuing an advanced degree in the near or far future, it may be worth taking a look at how your potential employers will (or will not) place an emphasis on your continued learning.
Paying for Graduate School
As you may have guessed, providing financial assistance for graduate school is one way a company can show a commitment to continued education. The type of reimbursement or assistance provided will depend on the company. Some companies provide full reimbursement, while others provide partial. Some require that your advanced degree is related to your job, and others don’t. This article from GoGrad.org includes some examples of “outstanding companies that pay for graduate school” and a long list of recommended strategies to encourage your company to pay for your graduate education. While many of the companies on their list are large names many of us have heard of before, that doesn’t mean that smaller companies don’t offer this option. It’s just something you’ll have to research a bit more to discover!
Personal Project Time
Though invented by the tech industry, personal project time (also referred to by some companies as a side hustle) can serve as an opportunity for you to continue learning about and engaging with a project of interest to you in any field. This idea was popularized by Google under the phrase “20% time,” which indicated that Google employees could use up to 20% of their time for their own project work. While Google has since changed their policy, other companies are embracing this idea. They all have different motives; some want employees to generate new business ideas for the company while others simply aim to give employees freedom. Either way, if you have a second passion and are looking to incorporate it into your work, this may not be a bad idea!
Professional Development Opportunities
The phrase “professional development” is very broad. Sometimes it can include formal conferences and trainings, and other times it can include informal gatherings and initiatives. These 20 companies have been commended for their emphasis on continued learning through many professional development initiatives, some of which are innovative and unique. Check out these examples and think about how they may influence your job search.
Reading articles online is one way to figure out whether or not the companies you’re considering hold these values, but informational interviewing can be helpful too. If you would like to talk how to figure out whether or not the companies you’re considering value continued education through in more detail or have questions about other factors in your job search, schedule an appointment with the Center for Career Development.