Rakhi Patel is a marketing manager partner for Adobe Systems. She shares insight on her pursuit of a master’s degree.

Why did you pursue a master’s degree?

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“I pursued a master’s degree to become more confident in my ability to communicate with upper management in larger enterprise technology companies where many executives have had a similar higher education. The idea was not to get a degree because the degree itself would provide credibility, rather the teachings would provide me with tools and creative ways to think and present differently and perhaps more efficiently…. A master’s degree enabled me to transform the way I communicate and influence in a sound, non-emotional, intellectual manner.”

What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master’s degree?

“I would tell him/her to first write down their values and what goals they want to achieve from the program after graduating. If the goal is a “higher salary” or “figuring out what I want to do,” you may be disappointed…. Rather, figure how the program will help you grow as a person, as an employee, as a leader. Which skills are you looking to refine? And then of course, find the school that fits your personal and professional goals. Grad school is a commitment and will take over your personal life, especially if you are working full-time at a demanding job such as I had. You have to be mentally ready and also have a support system that understands.”

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What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master’s degree?

“My biggest challenge was achieving balance…. It was difficult for me to accept sometimes that things were just out of my control – deadlines, combined with the literal amount of time it took me to do something. I also would have to make tough decisions, not to attend weddings, social/family events, etc. For me, it was worth it, but at times, not everyone understood and that would be hard to accept.”

What was the biggest reward for earning the master’s degree?

“My biggest reward was what I had sought for – the confidence to fight for what I believed in and communicate in a more productive, thought-provoking, intellectual way. In that manner, I fought for a promotion and received not only a title upgrade, but also a salary increase. I also successfully made an internal career shift to product marketing, which was another general goal of mine. By working with so many diverse personalities in the program and having a sort of safe place to grow, the master’s degree provided a kind of sandbox environment to learn and test. And the icing on the cake was interacting with so many wonderful, smart, diverse people along the way.”

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Robin D. Everson is a native Chicagoan who resides in Dallas, Texas. Her appreciation for art, food, wine, people and places has helped her become a well-respected journalist. A life-long lover of education, Robin seeks to learn and enlighten others about culture. You can find her work at Examiner.com