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So, you’ve decided you’d like to do a postgraduate degree, but you’re wondering about how it may affect your career choices. Or perhaps you’ve graduated, and you’re wondering just exactly how useful that degree you’ve got will actually be. Worry not! We’re here to talk you through just how you can utilise that postgraduate degree of yours to get ahead in the field.
Manage your expectations
The first thing to get out of the way is that we’re going to be realistic here. Whilst a postgraduate degree can be brilliant for landing you jobs, it’s not a guarantee. Just the piece of paper itself isn’t going to get you a sparkling career! In order to succeed in the world of postgraduate jobs, you need to be dedicated. And, of course, aware that undertaking a postgraduate program is expensive. Whilst funding is available, you shouldn’t undertake a postgraduate degree that will leave you severely in debt on the hope of obtaining a job afterwards. However, if you can get grant funding, perhaps an employer as a sponsor, or even fund it from your savings, it’s well worth doing.
Postgraduate jobs: the positives
With all of that now said, let’s take a look at the positives! Have a quick look at which degree courses have the lowest unemployment rates if you need a boost of optimism before we start.
Now – what sort of skills do you gain on a postgraduate course that will help with getting you a job?
Communication – both written and spoken communication is exceptionally important in most careers. Many people will say they’re good at this, but with a postgraduate degree under your belt you’ll have solid evidence that you are. If you have chance, take time in your degree to attend and present at conferences in your subject – this experience will definitely stand you in good stead when it comes to looking at postgraduate jobs!
Planning and organisation – again, everyone likes to say this, but you’ll have proof. A postgraduate degree requires a level of commitment and planning unlike many things – especially during the time of writing a dissertation! This will give you brilliant justification for your skill-set.
Research methods – depending on the job you go into, this may or may not be directly relevant. But the skill of hunting down that elusive academic article, or knowing how to deal with large quantities of data will serve you well in most areas you apply to. Make sure, if relevant, you talk about this – give examples.
Lab experience – A science-specific one here, but most laboratory jobs require lab experience. Whilst an undergraduate degree does provide you with some, doing the kind of research project that you’ll have to do as part of your postgraduate degree makes it even clearer you know what you’re doing. You’ll learn the official policies and processes required for jobs in your area, and, given you’ll have specialised in a particular area, you’ll be able to show off to postgraduate jobs in that area!
Networking – Whilst not useful for every job, the fact is that during a postgraduate degree you will meet others in your field. For those intending to go into the field in some manner, spend some time networking! Whether it’s the sciences or the arts, having contacts is always useful. In areas like business and finance as well, it can be not what you know, but who you know, so a degree can open you up to meeting some of the appropriate people before you apply for jobs, hopefully getting you a foot in the door! There might even be a postgraduate internship as part of your PG program, in which case you're very likely to get the chance to network with some useful and important people.
Another possible bonus to further study when it comes to postgraduate jobs is the opportunity to swap fields. Perhaps you want to move into a certain sector, but need to prove you’re capable? Well, doing a masters degree in that area would certainly count as proof!
Jobs for postgraduate students
So what sort of jobs for postgraduate students are there? Well, this could be a whole article on its own. Your first port of call will probably be jobs in the field you studied. For example, did you study Chemistry? There’s a whole host of postgraduate jobs based in this area – from lab technicians to research scientists. These are often aimed at those with a masters degree, with the potential to advance within the company over time. Or maybe you did Finance. There’s a range of options – from accounting, to investment banking, to the stock market. Depending on your tolerance for stress and your comfort with social skills, you’ll be able to find something suited to you.
Having a postgraduate degree gives you a nice edge and some extra knowledge companies will find useful. But what about you humanities students – say, History? Well, there’s academia, but there's also journalism, publishing, tutoring or a whole bunch of other such roles!
Still a bit stuck? Why not look at our postgraduate careers section?Find your PERFECT POSTGRAD PROGRAM