Daunting as it may sound, it is essential to plan your future a few years down the line. You wouldn’t impulsively buy something for thousands of pounds, so why dive head first into a master’s course? Take the time to map out what doors your master’s will open. If you have your heart set on a career in academia then clearly a master’s is the logical step but unless you have spent time considering how your master’s will further your career, is it really worth it? There are plenty of graduates who view a master’s as a way to put off looking for a job while trying to improve their chances of getting a job. It is not wise to fall into this trap.
After all, undertaking a master’s is a very expensive affair. Professor Vincent Emery, vice-head of the graduate school at University College London, advises that prospective postgraduate students “need to be more focused on the advantages for them in terms of career and employment of going on to do a master’s.” A career-orientated master’s degree might be the way forward; but consider contacting people working in the relevant industry to garner their opinions before committing to one. If they suggest a further qualification will not add much to your employability then it might be time to reconsider staying in education.
Moreover, in the majority of industries Inspiring Interns works with (such as marketing, business development, advertising and digital media) our experience is that a master’s degree will not necessarily make your application stand out. Of the graduates that began graduate internships through Inspiring Interns in the last three months, only 19.9% completed a master’s. We have found that many employers tend to value work experience that you have garnered throughout and after university, and they are willing to take on an eager graduate ready to enter the world of work. That is not to say that a master’s will damage your application, just that it does not guarantee a place at the head of the queue of candidates.
So if you have considered all of the above, and can’t decide whether to take a master’s or not; what is the solution? We read in the business section of the Times on Sunday (16th October) of executives completing part-time MBAs in the hope of a promotion, pay rise or career move. And although only 12% of mature students are funded by their employer, many are in a financial position that enables them to be able to afford this further education. Studying for a master’s or business qualification may be more useful to you in later life than currently.
Clearly not everyone will find themselves in a position to be able to afford higher education in later life but our advice is do not do a master’s if it is your last resort. Consider all your options, including doing a graduate internship, before you commit to paying so much for what could be a redundant line on your CV.