For students at the finishing line, or approaching it fast, thoughts may be turning to “what’s next?”. If you are considering further study, this blog might give some ideas on what to consider…
Some of you with a definite plan will already know that further education and/or training is a necessity for the job you want to do, for example, if you want to be a teacher then you’ll be applying for a course that will give you the teaching qualification.
But for those of you not so sure, enrolling on a Masters course might seem an easy fix – a chance to postpone the inevitable decision-making around what comes next after your undergraduate degree.
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 carefully consider the right course for you.
Choosing your area of study
You may have decided on postgraduate study in order to become more specialised and relevant to certain occupations and industry sectors - and your course will prepare you for working in these environments. But for those of you not so sure about your next steps, consider the big picture and choose a Masters degree that is very transferable in terms of skills and knowledge. In that way, you potentially have more options open from the start – and during your career journey. Many of our postgraduate students who are in full-time employment, for example, have chosen further study not only to upskill but to win promotion or change career paths, so this tells you that an additional (specialist) degree can be a bonus for those wanting to get ahead.
Do your research
Look at job vacancies that interest you – what qualifications are they looking for? Would having a Masters degree help if you were to apply? Read University course curriculums carefully, the modules will be listed and detailed. Do they offer what you need and any extras like field trips or short-term placements to give you practical experience? Ask what students typically do after graduation. Book to attend an Open Day and talk to Course Leaders about the course and possible areas of research (you will usually have a dissertation to complete during study). 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.
Work during study
Finding some relevant work experience will not only give you some idea of the workplace you are considering but will also add value to your CV, boost your confidence and help you build your network. It may also help you win interviews as you can evidence practical knowledge of the job you are applying for. Work experience can be in the form of a regular part-time paid job and/or volunteering within the community, as well as short term internships. Some courses may also offer the opportunity for a placement.
You can apply for most PG courses directly through the individual University website and you will see this indicated on the course page. Some courses may fill up quickly as places are often limited, so it is usually a good idea to apply early if possible. You will need to include academic references (check with your Lecturers ahead of applying) and a personal statement where you can evidence why you are a good candidate, and your particular interests and career goals. Unlike your undergraduate application, the postgraduate application is specific to the place you are applying for, so you should say why you have chosen that particular course and University. You may also be called for interview either in person or through video, before a place is offered. Our Masters at ARU site will be very useful if you are looking at ARU courses and sites such as Prospects gives information on courses in the UK and overseas.
If you are considering further study and would like to talk through options, you can book an Appointment through the Career Centre. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice and support with applications, including personal statements.
Employability & Careers Adviser
Our Employability Service works with students throughout their time at ARU and after they graduate. The Service offers careers advice, online resources, and help with job searches, applications and interview preparation. Our Employability & Careers Advisers may mention some of these resources and services in their blogs, to give you an idea of the careers support that's on offer at ARU. Some of these resources sit behind a log in and can only be accessed by current students.