Choosing the right career path for you: master’s or internship?

So, you’ve finally finished university. The relief is overwhelming. What follows is a blur because obviously you need to make up for all those days you were slogging away in the library by celebrating constantly. However, before you know it your old nemesis, panic, returns. You’re realising that you have rapidly morphed from a joyful, elated student into just another unemployed graduate.

The speech given at my graduation ceremony, which I wrongly thought might be inspiring or full of hope, constantly mentioned that we were ‘the rebound generation’. Just a light reminder that many graduates can’t get jobs out of university so they have no choice but to return back home. Brilliant. After graduation I applied for a range of jobs and mostly heard nothing back. I would have actually preferred to be getting rejection emails. It’s the silence that bothered me, it left me in complete limbo. Every day checking emails, waiting to see if anyone had replied. To be honest, I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I finished university. The future was looking bleak – family members and friends consistently asked me what my plan was and it was becoming frustrating /embarrassing that I actually had no idea. So, low and behold, I decided that the best thing to do was to apply for an MA in Religion and Political Life. This, I thought, was the way to successfully end the on-going limbo. I reassured myself over the summer months that this would give me time to think about what I really wanted to do and that it would make me ‘oh so’ employable. I started in September and it didn’t take me long to realise that although doing a master’s can be a great thing to do, it should not be used as a way to bridge a gap. Unsurprisingly, after a mere month, I quit.

Looking back I can see that there are a few questions I should have seriously thought about before committing to doing a postgrad degree. Hence the phrase; hindsight’s 20/20. So if you are thinking about doing a master’s here are a few questions you should consider before you commit:

1) Do you have a lot of work experience?
2) If you don’t have a lot of work experience, will your chances of getting a job increase if you do a postgrad instead of spending the time gaining experience through internships etc.?
3) Will doing a postgraduate degree help you figure out what you want to do?

The first two questions are important because many people you speak to about doing a master’s degree will tell you that firstly, ‘having a master’s degree is becoming the norm, you need it to be employable’ and secondly that ‘having a master’s will allow you to earn at least double the amount you would have earned without one’. I am not saying these people are lying, but these things are not true in ALL situations. Some job specifications will be looking for specific master’s but others will be looking for the candidate with the most experience in the field. Don’t underestimate how important experience can be, doing a master’s does not always equate to actual experience within the work place.

The question most relevant to my situation is the third question. I have always wanted to do a job where I was dealing with people but that doesn’t exactly narrow my job search down by much. Doing a master’s degree in Religion and Political Life was not going to help me figure this out. Getting experience through internships or work experience where I was dealing with people would firstly, help me decide what career path I wanted to go down and secondly, make me more employable.

After I quit, I started to apply for internships in HR. It was something I thought I might like but I had never had a chance to gain experience in the field. I have now started my Internship at Inspiring Interns and I am loving it!

How I feel now, after having worked for a month at Inspiring Interns, couldn’t differ more from how I felt after doing a month of my master’s. I’m excited about what I’m doing and learning every day and I really enjoy the atmosphere in the office. It’s the best decision I’ve made so far, so if you are having trouble deciding what you want to do or having difficulty getting a grad job I would definitely recommend applying for an internship.

This blog was provided by the lovely Hannah Ayres, one of Inspiring’s mighty Manchester team!

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