I've found far too many jobs that require a Master's degree; now I really wish I'd stuck around Monterey Bay and gone to Moss Landing Marine Labs to get it.
People look at my capstone paper on Elkhorn Slough, and express surprise that it's not a Master's Thesis; sitting right there at the mouth of the Slough, I could have turned it into one in two years easily, or three at the outside -- so, figure 2005-2006, and wham, more employable out the gate.
And that would have been a lot more productive than flailing around half-assed for six years on a hunt for an entry-level position.
Of course, if I'm gonna start doing Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda, if I'd stayed in the Coast Guard and gone to Marine Science Technician school, I could have retired in 2005, to start a whole new life with a government pension backing me up.
In this timeline, however, I'm looking for entry-level work at 45.
Oh, just to add you-know to you-know: NOAA's recruiting for officers. I meet the requirements perfectly, and exceed them in places, save one: "Be able to complete 20 years of active duty before turning 62."
I know I checked NOAA out right after graduation, when I was 39. Gods as my witnesses, the age cap then was 38. Not "complete 20 by 58", but 38, flat-out.
I would have turned 42 in 2006, incidentally. Why is that year the watershed date (pun inevitable) in all these what-if scenarios?