Turn your masters degree into a career

Find your PERFECT POSTGRAD PROGRAM

With all the doom mongering and hand wringing about the cost of degrees, not to mention “the-state-of-the-economy” to use that ubiquitous phrase, it is tempting to bypass higher education altogether and get a foot on a wrung of the job ladder as soon as you can, let alone pursue a postgraduate degree as well! However, before you disregard the option of doing a master’s degree it is worth considering their value aside from being a stepping stone to further qualifications.   

The benefits of a masters degree

The benefits of a masters degree are not purely found in the realms of academia; certain sectors and roles place great significance on masters programs. For example in the fields of international development, policy or think tank work, masters graduates are highly sought after. Then there are business qualifications like MBAs and masters degrees in subjects such as Finance and Wealth Management.

Many masters degrees also have a more vocational slant and are considerably more specialist than their undergrad counterparts, covering unusual and interesting subjects that you didn’t even realise it was possible to study! 

Take the time to research your degree program

Taking the time to research the courses available bearing your potential career interests in mind will open up options that could eventually provide you with an area of expertise to set you apart from the pack when applying for jobs. Such postgraduate qualifications may also be helpful in pointing you in the direction of a particular field or industry that you may not have otherwise come across. 

Turning your master's into a career Obviously, it’s silly to undertake a masters degree in the absence of anything else to do, but not knowing exactly what you want to do post bachelors is completely understandable and not something to get in a flap about. Making a conscious decision to study to improve your job prospects is sensible if your chosen course has links to a career path and gives you a sense of direction that you may have lacked previously. 

Network whilst you're studying

Then, once you’re on the masters itself don’t be shy... In your department you will almost certainly be rubbing shoulders with the leaders in their (and your!) field so take the opportunity to talk to them about your mutual passion for the subject, let them know you want to pursue your interest beyond your course and ask their advice. Your supervisors tutors and fellow students will invariably be flattered that you’re seized by the subject and have sought out their wisdom.  Plus, you never know who their contacts might be and when they might put in a good word...

To add even further polish to your employability, investigate the possibility of incorporating a work placement into your masters. You will find that some postgraduate degree programs and universities do this automatically; for example all masters courses in the Lancaster University’s Environment Centre involve work experience. If your course constraints don’t allow for work experience during the term time, there are always the holidays. It’s also possible that your department may have short-term posts available.  Either way, practical experience and knowing your stuff is a potent combination and something to be highlighted up on your CV or at any job interviews you attend.

Share your wisdom

The best thing to do with your newfound wisdom, once gained, is to share it!  In doing this you accomplish twin goals of bringing your subject to a wider audience and putting yourself on the map as somewhat of a guru! Look out for publications and websites that you could write for, whether they deal with subjects specific to your area or are tailored to a broader subject matter. And even if you’re not interested in journalism as a career, if you’re into your course enough you will get geekily excited about the prospect of explaining it to the unenlightened – this could be a sideline for you! It doesn’t have to be a seminal work for the most popular publication in the country – getting yourself in print is impressive and shows that you’re lively minded and have the initiative to seek out your own opportunities. Any published material also beefs up the all-important portfolio of experience and skills for your CV, and never discount the possibility of being offered that all-important internship/job by someone impressed by your well written piece!

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