In these uncertain times, we may be reluctant to make plans for the future that might need to change at the drop of a hat. For some of you, who are concerned that the job market is unpredictable, thoughts may turn to postgraduate study as a possible next step.
However, postgraduate study involves a great deal in terms of your time, effort and money, so is it a wise investment? We look at the real gains to be had, if you put some thought into finding the right course for you.
Choose a Masters degree based on the job you might like to do, rather than simply something of interest. That might have been OK for your undergraduate degree, when you were perhaps not entirely sure what your future plans were, but when it comes to further study you have decided to become more specialised and relevant to specific occupations and industry sectors.
Choose a course that will give you an opportunity to learn about the profession and the people who work in it.
Work experience during study is important so that you complete your degree equipped not only with new technical expertise, but also some idea of the workplace you are applying for and having built up a network of contacts.
Your postgraduate degree will undoubtedly add value to your CV but may not necessarily add much to your salary – to start with anyway – so if you’re in it for the money then don’t be disappointed if it doesn’t quite happen like that. Work experience, as well as the qualifications, is often the key to an increased salary.
Beeny Harwood-Purkiss received her BA (Hons) Illustration & Animation from ARU and went on to postgraduate study:
“After completing my undergraduate degree I felt my next step was into a career in marketing. Anglia Ruskin had an MSc in Marketing with a wide range of modules to deepen my knowledge of business and marketing (it did!). The University also facilitated placements which I can say really supported my career growth post-graduation. My top tip would be to get some advice and think about what career you would like to pursue, This will help you choose a course but also make it easier to apply yourself when studying.”
Many of our postgraduates who are currently employed, are studying not only to upskill but to get promotion, so this tells you that an additional (specialist) degree is a bonus for those wanting to get ahead.
Joshua Dowding, an MSc Computer Science student at ARU, says:
“When I came back to university after three years in the trade, I did so because I felt like there were significant gaps in my skill-set that were preventing me from moving forward in my career. The Masters course will help me catch up with some of the current technological trends that matter to most employers in my industry. It’ll also help me broaden my portfolio by allowing me to get involved in some of the extracurricular activities that I wouldn’t otherwise have the time, or the access, to participate in. For those of you that are thinking about going further: most people have an undergraduate degree these days – now more than ever, you need to stand out from the crowd. A Masters will help you do just that.”
Do your research. Look at job vacancies that interest you – what qualifications are they looking for? Would having a Masters help if you were to apply? Read course curricula carefully, the modules will be listed and detailed. Do they offer what you need and any extras like field trips or short-term placements? Find out where students typically go after graduation. Book on to a (virtual) Open Day (ARU Open Days). Find information on fees and funding on the course providers' websites and the UK Government site. For those applying to ARU, see also our Money Advice Service.
Want to talk or ready to apply?
Appointments are available to talk through your career ideas or course options.
You can email [email protected] for advice and support with postgraduate applications (see also our blog coming up on personal statements).
Further information on finding postgraduate study in the UK and overseas is available on Prospects.
By Kim Holbrook, Employability & Careers Adviser