So I am a graduate student (MS in Comp Sci with ML as my area of focus) who will graduate in May 2018. (Non-Ivy below average University )

My main query is that not all jobs are specifically mentioned that they are allowed for freshers right off the bat. Many require experience. I understand applying for any job that requires 4+ years of experience would be madness because I literally don't have the skill or the experience to even get through basic Resume check!

But is it ok to go for something that says 2+ years of experience? I understand that this conundrum has no definite answer but any viewpoint would be much appreciated!

Also, is academic time spent on Masters something that gets added as work experience?

P.S: I know this question is probably asked a million times. But since in the Similar Questions that SE suggested I couldn't find something. I am going ahead with posting this.

  • I suppose you don't actually have work experience, am I right?
    – DarkCygnus
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:27
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    "But is it ok to go for something that says 2+ years of experience?" - You don't have 2 years of experience though, you have 0 years of experience outside of the experience from your internship. Apply to the jobs, just don't lie, the wrong people can make it very hard for you to to be hired. The industry is smaller then you think.
    – Donald
    Aug 24, 2017 at 17:33
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    I have my masters in business analytics. The first job I got out of school was a "minimum 1-2 years' experience." The second job I got a year later was "2-3 years' experience." Sometimes the job "requirements" are really more of a wish list. Employers may want something but that doesn't mean they're going to get it, especially if they're not willing to shell out the big bucks. Aug 24, 2017 at 17:42
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    Job listings often say when advanced degrees count as work experience, something like "2 yrs experience or MS". If they don't, I wouldn't count on it.
    – user812786
    Aug 25, 2017 at 12:49

4 Answers 4


But is it ok to go for something that says 2+ years of experience?

It's okay to apply for any job you wish. Nothing will stop you from applying to a job you find interesting even when you don't meet the stated requirements.

Your chances of successfully getting the job depend entirely on you, the job market, and the needs of the hiring company.

Academic time is absolutely not the same as work experience. In many companies you'll have to "unlearn" some of what you were taught in school. In most companies/job there's "what you were taught" and "how the job is actually performed" and they aren't at all the same.

Some companies may consider accepting an advanced degree in lieu of some work experience - which they would clearly spell out in the job listing. Some companies will consider an internship as almost like work - not really work experience, but certainly better than no experience.

In general, if they require 2+ years of experience and you have none, you'll have little chance. But you never know and it's still okay to try - the worst that happens is a rejection and a little bit of wasted time.


I want to respond to the part of your question that asks whether academic time can be added as work experience.

In April, my firm hired some junior engineers; at the time they were all graduate students who would be receiving their degrees in a few months time.

The nature of my industry is that we win new work by selling the experience of our current staff and how that experience will benefit a new client. One of my responsibilities is to create resumes for new employees that we can present to potential new clients.

Although I couldn't call their academic experience work experience, what I was able to do was to think about which skills they developed through their academic work that could be of benefit to a potential new client, and then highlight those skills in their resume.

So, since they didn't really have much work experience to include, I included their university time in a similar format to an actual job, and then called out what skills they developed during that period. So for example, I might include bullet points that said:

  • Managed team of four other students during development of an application to tie new energy management systems into existing management system (Masters Thesis project)
  • Four years of intensive experience creating process diagrams using Yangdoodle software package and SQL reporting

At least this way, you are providing potential employers with a reason to consider your application, even if you don't meet their exact hiring requirements.

  • +1 Under the education section on the resume definitely indicate what you did in your classes that relate to or emulate professional work like magerber points out.
    – cheshire
    Aug 25, 2017 at 22:19

While a Masters is a fine achievement (disclaimer: I have one so I might be a little bit biased) and it does count for something when it comes to the job search it isn't even close to counting as 2 years of "work experience", it gives you perhaps a 6 month jump on equivalent non-masters qualified graduates and most of that comes from the fact that you're a bit older as a result.

Academic qualifications are great and I absolutely think they are a good foundation for an IT career - they just don't translate into the same thing as experience. Generally if employers are asking for X years experience you might get away with a bit less than that if your CV and skills are impressive or if experienced candidates are thin on the ground. Still as the saying goes "you don't ask, you don't get" so you haven't really got anything to lose by applying, and occasionally the experience requirements are just job posting boiler plate!


But is it ok to go for something that says 2+ years of experience?

There is nothing preventing you from applying to these jobs, it is ok if you try. It is up to you to see if they seem appealing to you, and to make your best at the recruiting process so you increase your chances of being selected.

However, there is also nothing preventing the recruiter from seeing you may not have the required experience for that job, and therefore decline your application or select a more appropriate candidate.

You may try apply for jobs that require lots of experience, but be aware that it is more likely you will not be selected. Just don't let this dissuade you from applying, as experience is not the only thing recruiters are seeking.

Also, is academic time spent on Masters something that gets added as work experience?

Definitely no, as you say it is academic experience. You mention in comments that you have done an internship, that can indeed be considered work experience.

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