Does a Master’s Degree make the cut?

15 Nov

This is what a Seattle’s resident, Hussam Almatrood, continues to wonder after months of rejection while applying for jobs. Juggling between changing diapers and sending resumes, Almatrood continues to believe that someone will give him a call. He often wonders about the reasons preventing him from landing a job. Almatrood is a needle in the pile of unemployed Americans who are also searching for one thing, a career.

Almatrood graduated from Seattle University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing & Management, after which, he was able to gain some work experience in the field. Yet, through all these years of experience he didn’t feel that he found his dream job. He wanted to be part of a company in which his skills and determination were valued and appreciated.

Hence, Hussam thought that if he pursued a Master’s Degree he would have a better chance of finding that dream job. Investing the time and  the money, he thought, will pay off. He still thinks that it will.

(Hussam Almatrood)

While he was completing his Master’s Degree, Almatrood’s son was born. He balanced both his father duties with his student assignments and he was able to graduate in 2010 with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration. At the same time his wife received the rare opportunity to complete her Ph.D. in Computer Science. And she took it.

“An opportunity she couldn’t miss out on,” he said.

Husband and father of two, a son and a daughter, Almatrood became the primary caregiver for their children. Pursuing his career was something very important to him, but not more important than the happiness of his family.

“This wasn’t a sacrifice, but the biggest joy of my life,” he said.

Today their children have grown, his wife is closer to graduation and Almatrood is back on the market, searching for that dream job, but “the process can be very frustrating,” he said. Sending out, more or less, about ten resumes per day and six months later, all he’s got is: “We are sorry, we found someone who is more qualified.”

Almatrood doesn’t know what more qualified meant in those responses. “I’ve never asked, I didn’t know I could,” he said.

Updating his resume wasn’t enough, he says. He wonders: “Is it me, is it my name?”

Hussam Almatrood, a 38-year-old Saudi Arabian graduate, thinks that his origins have something to do with it. Despite his previous experience and high educational achievements, Almatrood continues to struggle with reentering the workforce.

The job market has been a difficult arena to enter, especially in Seattle, where if you are not a graduate who majored in computer science, engineering, math or software development your chances are even lower. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the unemployment rate nationwide is about 7.9 percent, whereas in the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett area the unemployment rate is about 7.0 percent. Not a huge difference, but impactful. The Bureau also provides statistics with the latest estimations of what a graduate, like Almatrood, should be making. It appears that if Almatrood had a job in Public Administration, his yearly wage will be between $61,690 to $104,230.

A document called where “are the jobs in my field,” on the BLS website states: “Industries with higher wages do not necessarily employ large numbers of individuals. In fact, the employment in high paying industries is sometimes much smaller than employment in industries with average wages.’’

(Bellevue, Wash. Photograph by S. Trakiyska)

This document advises jobseekers, such as Almatrood, to basically choose their major according to where the live. In fact, when you type Seattle in the search engine a statistic pulls up employment shares significantly below their national representation. The data changes frequently, but their website can be a great tool to answer many of the public’s questions. The question here is: does Seattle have a place for a Master’s Degree graduate in Public Administration who has spent the last two years as a stay-at-home dad?

Almatrood wonders if pursuing his MA was the right choice. Maybe if he stayed in his previous occupation, happy or not, at least he would have made money and he would have gained the additional work experience that he needs today. Almatrood wonders, is higher education really beneficial?

Robin Lindley, a features editor of the History News Network and a Bachelors graduate in History and Law, strongly supports the idea of higher education. A long time graduate, Lindley said that a degree can serve as a ticket for potential employees, because many companies still have particular requirements and expectations of the their future candidates, such as the accomplishment of a degree. Lindley and Almatrood do not know each other, but regardless of their generational differences they are both firm supporters of education.

Despite all, Almatrood is a believer; he hasn’t given up on the educational system or the corporate world, which he believes reinforces equal opportunities and equal practices in the hiring process. Most importantly he loves this metropolitan city, he trusts that his opportunity awaits for him right around the corner.

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