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Topics: Career Development
Will a Master's of Science in Computer Information Systems (MSCIS) be worthwhile?
Anonymous
Over the past nine years I have held a various roles including, Pre-Sales Solution Manager, Project Manager, Technical Project Manager, Early Engagement Program Manager, and Research Engagement Program Manager. My job history has been interesting, however, the diverse, (unfocused), path I followed has created a situation in which I could not reasonably be considered a technical expert or domain expert of any kind. I am PMP certified and will soon obtain my CSM and SAFe® 4 Program Consultant (SPC) certifications, although my current work involves business projects which do not require a project management framework to manage.

So what's the problem you might ask? Well, I'm not happy with the work I'm doing and have little interest in continuing down this path. Due to the lack of focus, I cannot see a clear path to reaching upper management levels or progressing beyond where I currently am as a PM. I have always held a great deal of respect for the technical folks I have worked with over the years, and I have a strong desire to build more technical expertise and get more hands-on with various technologies. I am considering to embark on a part-time MSCIS program, concentrating on database management and business intelligence, or security, but have many questions/concerns and I hope my fellow project management community members can offer up some thoughtful advice.

From a financial standpoint, as a mid-senior PM, I am struggling with the what and the how. What job role I should be targeting, and how to make the transition without having to drop down to an entry-level role that will cut my pay by 2/3. If I stay at my current employer, my MSCIS degree would be subsidized and total out of pocket expenses would probably be around $16k-$20k over a period of 24 months.

Looking forward to hearing from you on this.

~Dan
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Network:58



Before making a move, I would recommend thinking-through what position it is that you ultimately want to achieve. Because you mention that you don't see a clear path to upper management as a source of your unhappiness, I am guessing you may want to be a CIO.

Regardless, whatever position or type of position you want, talk/interview with other people in that position. For example, if you wanted to be a CIO, see if you can arrange interviews with CIOs to see what they recommend AND to get as much of a life-story from those individuals in how they got to where they are now. Also, ask what they like about it and what they don't like about it.

Another thing to consider: Find a mentor.
...
1 reply by Daniel Berenholz
Sep 30, 2019 1:03 PM
Daniel Berenholz
...
Hi James,

I replied to this back on 9/26 but it never posted, I'm guessing it is related to the CAPTCHA. Anyways, thank you for your reply, that is great advice and I have already begun having informational interviews with some of my colleagues to start with. As I continue to reflect on this, speak to more people, and refine my actual goals, I may eventually try to schedule 1:1 time with some more senior-level folks. In the meantime, it seems very clear that any career change would involve carving my own path, (perhaps based on others who have made similar changes), and there are never any guarantees. I would have to want "it" bad enough to find a way to make it work. The other option is to take that energy and try harder to embrace the line of work I am already in. Perhaps I just need the right opportunity, or a different environment, to feel better about my work and my future prospects.

Cheers,
Dan
Network:337



Consider how you want to market your skills. A mid-career masters would generally indicate to me that you are either developing new highly specialized technical skills, or strategic skills on managing a technical field.

When I read resumes for specific job positions, if I want a technical specialty, experience will take precedence over a MS. If it is more a leadership oriented position it would provide an indication that you have had the opportunity to do a lot of reflection on the field and understand it from a higher, more architectural level.

I myself earned my MS in Systems Engineering after 20 years in engineering leadership roles. At this point in my career though, it helped develop a greater understanding of the overall principles as a Project Engineer rather than positioning me for a job as a detail level SE.

One thing that I do think it adds either way is that it shows you are still both willing and capable to learn new things. That is a valuable. I see many people who never want their work to change until they retire. They often follow direction more than develop innovative solutions.
...
1 reply by Daniel Berenholz
Sep 30, 2019 1:10 PM
Daniel Berenholz
...
Hi Keith,

Thanks for the reply and for the positive tone of your response. It solidifies my belief that, (depending on the opportunity cost), putting in some time and energy to learn more about the industry I work in will still have value.

Cheers,
Dan
Network:8



Sep 26, 2019 2:59 PM
Replying to James Shields
...
Before making a move, I would recommend thinking-through what position it is that you ultimately want to achieve. Because you mention that you don't see a clear path to upper management as a source of your unhappiness, I am guessing you may want to be a CIO.

Regardless, whatever position or type of position you want, talk/interview with other people in that position. For example, if you wanted to be a CIO, see if you can arrange interviews with CIOs to see what they recommend AND to get as much of a life-story from those individuals in how they got to where they are now. Also, ask what they like about it and what they don't like about it.

Another thing to consider: Find a mentor.
Hi James,

I replied to this back on 9/26 but it never posted, I'm guessing it is related to the CAPTCHA. Anyways, thank you for your reply, that is great advice and I have already begun having informational interviews with some of my colleagues to start with. As I continue to reflect on this, speak to more people, and refine my actual goals, I may eventually try to schedule 1:1 time with some more senior-level folks. In the meantime, it seems very clear that any career change would involve carving my own path, (perhaps based on others who have made similar changes), and there are never any guarantees. I would have to want "it" bad enough to find a way to make it work. The other option is to take that energy and try harder to embrace the line of work I am already in. Perhaps I just need the right opportunity, or a different environment, to feel better about my work and my future prospects.

Cheers,
Dan
Network:8



Sep 27, 2019 3:05 PM
Replying to Keith Novak
...
Consider how you want to market your skills. A mid-career masters would generally indicate to me that you are either developing new highly specialized technical skills, or strategic skills on managing a technical field.

When I read resumes for specific job positions, if I want a technical specialty, experience will take precedence over a MS. If it is more a leadership oriented position it would provide an indication that you have had the opportunity to do a lot of reflection on the field and understand it from a higher, more architectural level.

I myself earned my MS in Systems Engineering after 20 years in engineering leadership roles. At this point in my career though, it helped develop a greater understanding of the overall principles as a Project Engineer rather than positioning me for a job as a detail level SE.

One thing that I do think it adds either way is that it shows you are still both willing and capable to learn new things. That is a valuable. I see many people who never want their work to change until they retire. They often follow direction more than develop innovative solutions.
Hi Keith,

Thanks for the reply and for the positive tone of your response. It solidifies my belief that, (depending on the opportunity cost), putting in some time and energy to learn more about the industry I work in will still have value.

Cheers,
Dan
Network:104004



It's interesting to see how your past journey mirrors mine. The difference is I learned to love what I do, rather than do what I love. Every new role and new assignment made me the person I am today. Do I want to be a CxO? Nah. But it makes me a heck of a consultant.
...
1 reply by Daniel Berenholz
Oct 01, 2019 2:05 PM
Daniel Berenholz
...
Hi Stéphane,

Thanks for the reply. As I continue to ruminate and get feedback from colleagues and the PM community in general, I am coming to terms with a reality that more closely reflects the path you chose, to find a way to love what you do rather than do what you love. Still, I am likely to move forward with some educational path, be it a certificate or degree program, but find a way to love what I do and advance in my current field seems like the only realistic option.

Would you mind sharing what steps you took to change your own perspective about the work you were doing? I appreciate you taking the time to add your thoughts.

Cheers,
Dan
Network:8



Oct 01, 2019 1:47 PM
Replying to Stéphane Parent
...
It's interesting to see how your past journey mirrors mine. The difference is I learned to love what I do, rather than do what I love. Every new role and new assignment made me the person I am today. Do I want to be a CxO? Nah. But it makes me a heck of a consultant.
Hi Stéphane,

Thanks for the reply. As I continue to ruminate and get feedback from colleagues and the PM community in general, I am coming to terms with a reality that more closely reflects the path you chose, to find a way to love what you do rather than do what you love. Still, I am likely to move forward with some educational path, be it a certificate or degree program, but find a way to love what I do and advance in my current field seems like the only realistic option.

Would you mind sharing what steps you took to change your own perspective about the work you were doing? I appreciate you taking the time to add your thoughts.

Cheers,
Dan

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