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College student weighing master's degree and SAP

I am a undergraduate student at Pennsylvania State University. I'm doing my B.S. in management information systems. This is my senior year, however, I'm not sure what I should be doing after I graduate. I am interested in SAP but I don't know which part of SAP to invest in. Or would it be a better to get a master's degree before I get into SAP?

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I would base your career planning more on your ultimate interests. The reason to get a master's degree is more for the know-how and the long-term career goals. If you think you'd someday like to be pretty high up the corporate food chain, such as a CIO or senior project manager, then a master's degree is probably a good idea. I know you can always finish a master's part-time down the road, but I'm a fan of getting schooling out of the way before life gets too hectic.

You don't need a master's to succeed in a hands-on SAP career, however. I know a small percentage of successful SAP consultants who have a master's degree, but most of them don't. What successful SAP consultants have in common is years of hands-on project experience focused on a particular niche that relates well to their overall skills and interests. As far as which part of SAP you should pursue, I don't know enough about your background or interests to say. And it doesn't matter much, because at this point, you want to go where the opportunities take you. Don't get too stuck on SAP. Focus instead on getting exposure to enterprise-level software that tackles key business problems. It could be SAP, it could be Oracle, it could be another area entirely. Take the most challenging jobs you can find. If you choose skills over money and keep pushing and learning about the latest technologies, you'll be surprised how your career unfolds.

This was first published in December 2005

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