A Dream Job or A Dream School's offer (that cannot be deferred...)


Hi, I graduated my undergrad studies in 2020, and I hadn't been able to find a job under this pandemic, so I was trying to apply for masters early this year, just to keep my options open and making sure that I wouldn't be doing nothing at all if I couldn't find a job still.

But recently, I have just been really lucky to be offered a job at somewhere I have longed working for, (after hundreds of applications and about 15 interviews, uncountable rejections and crickets) AND  a place to study at my first choice school for masters programme after being on the waitlist. The problem with that is, this school does not allow deferred entry, and it has no guarantee that I would get in if I were to reapply next year. Obviously, I am super grateful for getting both offers of dream (I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE THIS), it has honestly been a long journey and undoubtedly this becomes the hardest decision to make in my architectural design life so far.

I am hoping that someone would be so kind to offer any advice, and would love to hear if anyone has been in a similar position before.

May 25, 21 4:41 pm

I would take the job now and reassess the situation later with the school. Maybe you end up applying to a different school after working for a couple of years.

May 25, 21 4:44 pm  · 
6  · 

Master is always a plus. Having a master from a reputable school is definitely great. The only thing you need to consider is money. Whether you are rich enough or the school offered you enough grants. If you have to take big loans to do the master. It is a really big Meh no matter Ivy league or what. Now for the work field. Do you have any previous intern experience at the dream job. If the "dream job" is in some starchitect offices. As entry level, you may be doing diagrams and cutting foam models working 60+ Hrs with minimum pay for a couple of years. Just so you know, getting into starchitect office does not mean you lead the design of the magazine cover museum. Honestly, just evaluate your financial situation. If you can do Master without much debt, do the master. There are plenty of jobs out there. And you will only get better with the extra education.

May 25, 21 5:16 pm  · 

First of all, thank you for commenting. I live in the UK so in terms of finance it isn't too much of a problem (I'm not rich but it's more about the gov policy differs from the US) it can be a little bit over-romanticised by saying it's a 'dream', I enjoy working in multidisciplinarity within architecture, it is actually an in-house designer position for a company that does a lot of spatial designs that I personally really adore. Which is also why at this stage, I am quite keen that the school I have been offered to is the school that I would love to go, as not a lot of schools offer the programme to what I want. I hope this gives you a better idea. Thanks so much for the input though!

May 25, 21 5:41 pm  · 

And this job actually offers more pay than a usual Part 1 Architectural Assistant - almost the beginning salary of what a Part 2 (after MArch) would be earning, so - tough choice!

May 25, 21 5:48 pm  · 

OP - is your undergrad degree accredited and allow you to become licensed with reciprocity ?  If the answer is no then finish your education and get an accredited degree that allows a shorter path to licensure and reciprocity.  

Just my opinion.  

May 25, 21 5:29 pm  · 
1  · 

Hi, thanks for commenting. I live in the UK so my undergrad degree is a RIBA Part 1 accredited. And to become a qualified architect here masters is a necessity - but I personally wouldn't worry too much about being a registered architect or not at the moment, just want to do things that make me happy, and I don't mind both education or employment at all - it's a tough choice!

May 25, 21 5:45 pm  · 

Thanks for explaining this to me. I'm in the States so our system is a bit different than yours. Regardless, I would still go with finishing your education. Any work experience you'll get right now will be in drafting / production. While experience is good you'll be more marketable if you have finished your education. Also how difficult would it be for you to get into a masters program after being out of school for several years?

Not being in the UK this might be bad advice, so keep that in mind.

May 25, 21 6:18 pm  · 
1  · 

What you want out of a Master's program will likely change significantly after you work for a bit. Maybe not, but likely. That could be good or bad depending on your perspective.

May 25, 21 5:57 pm  · 

Having studied and worked in the UK, I would say that if you landed a job with a top London firm then consider taking the job offer. I am saying this because UK high-profile firms can provide you with recommendations to get admitted into any/most top schools in the country. This is of course dependent upon the quality of your service, which I am certain that will be fine given your post history. In my view, if you reapply in 1 or 2 years with the same (or even improved) portfolio + high quality recommendations, then it's fair to assume that you can get into the same schools. Myself, I turned down a huge job offer just before the pandemic hit for the sake of returning to school full time and I have partially regretted it, in that the timing and availability of highly-desired professional positions is rather unique and rare. On the other hand, schools make offers every year and if you are a high quality applicant timing won't affect you.

May 25, 21 6:19 pm  · 

No such thing as a dream job. Stop.

May 25, 21 6:39 pm  · 
1  · 

Here's your decision tree: 

  • Does the job offer pay well?
    • Yes: Take the job.
    • No: Go to the next question.
  • Is the master's cheap?
    • Yes: take the masters.
    • No: Go to the next question.
  • Keep looking. 

Repeat for every new offer or acceptance letter.

May 25, 21 7:33 pm  · 

I would say take the job- especially since it's a firm you admire!

You'll learn so much and get to work under real world demands with experienced architects. You'll build your network, build your skill set, and get paid to do so.

If you got into your dream school once, you are probably already a driven candidate. Working at a good office really makes you feel like you can conquer anything.

May 25, 21 7:52 pm  · 
2  · 

Also pragmatically: if you don't take the offer, after you finish your master's you'll be 6 years into your education with little / no job experience. 

Grad school should open doors, but you'll have a much easier time getting work if you work 1-2 years beforehand. Especially if you have a network of former coworkers to get leads from.

May 25, 21 8:04 pm  · 
2  · 

If the job is not what you thought it would be, then what? What are you left with?

Your school experience is easier adjusted, change courses, take additional classes etc. so many options there to make it a life changing experience...and improve your chances and options for your entire future career.

You got that job offer based on the level you are at does that compute in 5 years or so?

May 26, 21 2:33 am  · 

There are obviously variables but provided you're not going into a ton of debt I'd recommend finishing your education. If you take the job now you're either going to end up leaving it in a year or two to go back to school or end up not going back to school at all. When you're done with school you'll be more marketable than you are now, which will help for jobs.

My advice would be to do whatever you need to do to get your license sooner rather than later. You can't do that without a masters it sounds like.

May 26, 21 10:26 am  · 

Take the job and tell the school about it. Not sure what the exact situation is, but for example, a stint at OMA can be just as good as a masters at Harvard on the resume.

May 26, 21 10:56 am  · 

In my opinion: if you weigh the job and the master's program as equally beneficial opportunities, you should take the job. You probably have less chance of getting a job at this specific firm again as you do getting accepted into the master's program again. The school will take in new students at the same time every year in the future, and if anything, your job experience will help your chances of getting accepted, but you don't know when this firm will be hiring someone of your experience level again.

May 26, 21 12:45 pm  · 
3  · 

congrats on your acceptances, both seem like great paths forward, with neither being the “right” decision. Listen to your instinct, there are enormous benefits to doing either and both will propel your career forward.

I always say plan for the next 2 years, not much you can do beyond that. Where do you want to be in 2 years? Which route will get you there?

Jun 5, 21 9:50 am  · 
1  · 

If you have a 5 year BS why do you need a master's? If you don't have an NAAB 5 year degree why are they paying you so much money? Are they hiring galley rowers for a big project after which you will be discarded? Is the job in any place you would like to live and settle? Can you afford to live there on the salary they are offering? Are there other jobs in the area should this one go south? If this is really a good job with a creative firm it sounds like you could learn more there than in two years of school. What is the differential between Master's tuition and regular undergraduate tuition at the school you are considering (are they taking advantage of the grad students only because they can)? Lots of questions. 

Jun 6, 21 7:54 am  · 

This is an easy one to answer.  Since you did not do a year out - go for the job and get experience prior to starting your part 2.  The work experience you bring into your future studies is priceless.  Also consider taking 2 years out to work.  I had a brilliant student who went to work for MAD in China for year out and is learning so much she is now in year 4. Follow your dreams.

Jun 6, 21 11:13 am  · 
1  · 

Hey, thanks so much - I have a side question, I was wondering if you would have any insights on AA and RCA, how different are they in terms of teaching (or just any thoughts)

Jun 6, 21 1:25 pm  · 
1  · 

AA. Resources, network of experts, quality of teaching staff and international reputation. RCA is 'research' based which is fine - have a look at the end of year shows. The AA is designed as a global programme and as such bring international experts into the programme - there are at least 2 external speakers (afternoon + 6ish) so you can feed your personal agenda as you wish. The AA Library is the best in the UK - (full disclosure - I went to the AA)

Jun 6, 21 2:10 pm  · 

Thank you everyone for contributing their input - a bit of a background I did do a 9-month placement during my undergrad degree in the UK (placement integrated)
So it isn't like I have 0 experience at all but also doesn't seem long enough..?

There are still a few months before school potentially starts, I have decided to take up my job offer and have already started working! Yay!

But also it would be good for me to try out and see if I would eventually continue with my full-time job/ whether the company would allow me to work on a part-time basis during my masters (realistically 1 day per week?) / to dedicate my time completely on my 2-full year masters studies! We'll see how it goes I guess.

Thank you!

Jun 6, 21 1:31 pm  · 
1  · 

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