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Get Schooled

If you're a recent grad or a career-changer, your best bet may be to learn your way out of this recession. But be careful that a niche degree doesn't equal a useless degree, says Tory Hoen, co-author of the forthcoming edition of the Guide to Life After College.

Cool-and-useful degree programs abound—it's only a matter of finding them. Did you practically live in your textbooks and pajamas in college? "Library Science degrees are underrated and can lead to cool careers," says Hoen.


Other surprisingly useful Masters' are NYU-Tisch's dual degree in business and film production and Columbia's journalism and "fill in the blank" degrees, which pair communications with the sciences, law, business, public affairs, religion and environmental science.

You might not think that pairing media with a professional staple is necessary, but think again: being able to summon quick and concise creativity is invaluable in most any industry. "It's really true that business intelligence will take you a long, long way," says Andy Speer, VP of technology solutions for Technisource.

Getting your next degree may also be a way to do the time abroad you never got around to do in college—and turn it into a career asset. France has some of the world's most renowned business schools in HEC and INSEAD, and few companies would frown on an international relations or public policy degree from Sciences Po in Paris or the London School of Economics.

Continuing education doesn't have to be extravagant, however. Plenty of companies—particularly in tech—have been known to hire self-taught talent. Sometimes, it's as easy as identifying a new specialty you'd like to pursue and buying a few books on Amazon. For computer engineers, Speer says, "process and automation skills are really hot, and it's probably the easiest skill-set to train yourself for."

Need more motivation? Try online certification or local trade schools. If you can excel on sample tasks during interviewing, few employers will care about where you picked up your skills.

Knowing brands and equipment can help, too. "Telephony and mobile are some of the fastest evolving technologies, both from a hardware and software perspective," says Speer. "The more experience you can get with those providers and those manufacturer's products, the more valuable you become."