Greg Bliss is a UI/UX (user interface/user experience) artist with Electronic Arts (EA) in the San Francisco Bay area. He earned a master's degree in Entertainment Technology from Carnegie Mellon University.
Why did you pursue a master's degree?
"A good friend of mine had gone into a master's program. He came back after his first semester talking about the kinds of work he was doing, the people he was interacting with; the projects he got to be a part of made a big impression on me. At that point, I had just seen what used to be a fairly steady stream of good freelance and full-time work as a web designer in Wester, NC dry up due to the recession, and I wasn't feeling too optimistic or enthusiastic about the work I was doing. Talking to him reminded me of the kind of passionate investment I'd felt when I had been in undergrad, and it made me realize that I had really started to lose something precious in the four years since I'd gotten out of school. I wanted to put myself in a position to work on things I cared about and felt genuine enthusiasm for, and I also wanted to put myself in a position to grow in ways bigger than I felt web design work in WNC was going to allow."
What would you tell someone who is considering returning to school to earn a master's degree?
"If you're taking on a fair amount of debt, it's of utmost importance that you target schools that have both very high placement in the industry and active, supportive alumni networks. You could get the best instruction in the world, but if you don't get a real handle on how that translates into on-the-ground industry expectations and work experience, it won't help you repay that loan. I spent the second half of my time in grad school working paid internships - for me the value of the program I went to wasn't primarily in the on-site learning I did at the university, at least not after the first semester or so. I was there because it has an unbelievably active and tightly bonded alumni community, and because they tend to have high industry placement."
What was the biggest challenge you faced when pursuing your master's degree?
"The debt; but if you remain employed you can get on repayment plans that ensure you can live perfectly well as you make payments. There is definitely a sacrifice you make in terms of your time and personal life."
What was the biggest reward for earning the master's degree?
"I broke into the video game industry, I made connections with some really amazing people, which have eventually turned into several very cool jobs, I met my wife, and I have the ETC alumni network, which is hugely supportive."
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
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