I currently have a bit of a conundrum - I would like to do a Masters right after undergrad and am currently applying to programs. However, I have several job offers. In case I do not get into the programs I want, should I accept the offer now? I'm not quite sure how to handle the situation.
Are the jobs and Master's programs in the same city? Many graduate programs are designed around the idea that many participants have 9-5 jobs. It may be possible to do work towards a Master's while employed. If you think that would be too difficult, you might be able to ask your employer whether you can drop down to part-time status. Another option is to look into delaying the start of the Master's program for a semester or two, so you're not leaving the job right after starting.
I don't think you should accept a job knowing you intend to back out if you get accepted to a master's program. I'm sure people do it, but it's not something I would do.
I would be more forthright. I would tell the recruiters at the companies that have made offers that you're considering doing a master's first and ask if they'd be willing to hold the offer while you do that. Either way, you'd like more time to decide.
If they liked you with a bachelor's, they'll like you even more with a master's. Depending on the size and culture of the company and your own attractiveness as a candidate, there's a good chance they'll give you time to decide and hold the offer if you decide to do the master's. Or they may have an even better suggestion. Worst case, the response deadlines they've given you are still the deadlines and your situation is unchanged.
I'm not quite sure how to handle the situation.
I'd ask myself the following question: What would you rather happen?
- You start working somewhere, then get accepted to a Master's program and can't go because you're committed to your workplace.
- You start working somewhere, then get accepted to a Master's program and you completely burn your bridges by bailing on your workplace a few months into the employment.
- You start a Master's and miss out on working for those places you were interested in - at least for a few years.
Which can you live with better? Make the choice.
Note, however, that:
- Working somewhere usually helps you focus your research interests.
- You're going to refuse all of your job offers, minus the one you accept, anyway.
- Those same workplaces might be interested in you after your Master's - which is not all that far away, despite how it may seem right now.
- When you're in a Master's program, you might be just studying, but if you do meaningful research, you might actually think of this as a kind of employment: A very junior researcher / research assistant, and possibly also a teaching assistant.
This is all assuming you can't combine the Master's and a paid position like @accumulation suggested.
In germany we have contracts that usually start with a 6 month trial. Meaning that you and the company can terminate the contract within 1 or 2 weeks in that time period...I don't know which country you are in and which regulations you have. But if you have similiar conditions, I would do the following:
If you think there is a chance you get not into the programs you want, accept the job offers.
If you get into the program you want, terminate the contract and say you decided to do your masters(I saw something similiar several times already).
But keep in mind when you leave the company you should always go with good terms, you could even tell them that you will apply again after you have your masters. I think leaving because you want a higher education is a very good reason and no one can blame you for leaving.