Dear Mentor:

Can I leverage my experience for a US graduate degree?

I'm from India and doing job for around 5 years after my engineering in the year 1996. I'm working in the field of wireless telecoms for the whole period -- initially in GSM and now in CDMA. I want to pursue my higher education in USA but I want to utilize my job experience and get ahead. Is it possible? How can I manage scholarship for this?

Upwardly Mobile, India

Dear Upwardly Mobile:

As you know, market forces determine the value of our experience. The wireless communications arena, while having lost some of its luster recently, is still an attractive field. By the way, more than half of the US wireless communications network is neither GSM nor CDMA. Moreover, no degree will utilize your experience. You have to utilize your experience and education as a package to make yourself more marketable. The question then becomes whether there is a combination of further education in the US and your work experience that would increase your market value. The simple answer is: Yes. Let us hasten to add that upon finishing your next degree, your work experience would contribute more to the ease (or lack thereof) of finding a job, whereas your degree would determine your level of compensation to a great extent. Such is the situation in early career; however, this situation reverses later in the career, where experience is valued more than the education.

You have basically two options for the Master's degree - Engineering and MBA. Virtually no financial aid is available to international student for MBA in the US. Financial aid in the form of research and teaching assistantships is available to international students for Master's in Engineering, but the competition is fierce. Whether you can get admitted or get financial aid from a university depends on how you have performed academically and on entrance exam(s).

A List of US Engineering Colleges and a List of US Business Schools is available on iMahal. You may wish to use the iMahal College Finder to find colleges that best match your performance and needs. More details on financial aid are also available.

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