After your exams, you might be considering continuing with university life and doing a postgraduate course. A few students have mentioned this to us already, so before you decide on anything, we’ve put together a list of things to consider.
Think about why
Be honest with yourself about why you want to carry on studying. Is it to gain an industry-recognised qualification? Do you think it will make you more employable? The course doesn’t have to be purely for vocational reasons. Love of a subject is also a good motivator. What isn’t a good reason, however, is fear of having to job hunt, because you will have to look for work sooner or later. A postgraduate course is also a big commitment (financially and time-wise) so make sure you have thought about all the key elements beforehand and know where your motivation really lies.
Research what it will involve
There are a lot of differences between postgraduate study and an undergraduate course, not only in the expected standard of your work. Postgraduate courses can be much more specialised and ‘niche’ than an undergraduate degree. The form of examination may be different (more coursework, less exams). You may not have as many lectures or seminars and the cohort of students may be smaller. Some of this may not matter to you, but it’s worth having a clear idea of what postgraduate life looks like.
Know your term dates
One key difference to note is that the vast majority of postgraduate courses run from September to September. You’ll be a student throughout the summer when you’ll be expected to be working on your dissertation. You won’t, therefore, have the summer holidays to do an internship, if that’s what you were planning. This is particularly important if you’re an international student – you could be in danger of violating the terms of your visa if you work full-time during the summer when you’re a registered student. It’s worth clarifying all of this before you start a course.
Talk to people
It’s important to think about what sort of organisation you want to work for in the future and where you want to work, as employers can have different attitudes to postgraduate study. A Masters or PhD is certainly a requirement for a career in academia and some other areas of work, and is often expected by overseas employers. However, many UK employers will treat a postgraduate in the same way as a graduate, so it’s important to do your research.
Have a look at current job adverts for the sorts of roles you want to apply to in the future. Do they specify that a postgraduate qualification is required? If so, is there a particular subject they prefer? Some industries may prefer practical experience over qualifications. There is also the option to study part time, or take a short course, which would allow you to get a qualification AND work experience at the same time.
You could also speak to employers at careers events to hear their perspective on further study, or contact them directly on LinkedIn.
Plan what to do alongside your studies
Make the most of your time as a postgraduate to gain the skills and qualities employers are looking for. Work experience during the summer will be difficult, but you could do something part-time during term-time. Why not attend events to gain an insight into the industry you’re interested in or to network. You could do some volunteering, which is a great way to gain skills but can be more flexible to fit around your studies.
If you’re not sure whether to do a postgraduate qualification or not, why not have a chat with one of our Careers Consultants? They can help you to clarify your thinking and talk through your options. Contact 020 7882 8533 to book an appointment.