A Master Plan for Masters

If you’re just starting your Masters degree, it can all be a bit overwhelming, but half an hour’s planning now could be the difference between having your dream job lined up after you graduate – or heartache as you settle for second best.

Why the rush?
Some employers in the UK recruit a year in advance for jobs ideal for Masters postgraduates. They’re visiting campuses and careers fairs and accepting applications right now for jobs which start just after you finish your Masters. If you miss this window, you’ll find that they may be advertising similar jobs when you graduate – but they’ll be for start dates in autumn 2014!

So I should panic and start applying now?
Not necessarily …

  • If you have 2 or 3 years+ experience since graduating with a first degree, you’re probably well  beyond these “graduate schemes”. You’re looking for experienced hire jobs which could be advertised at any time of year, and are very unlikely to be recruiting a year in advance (more likely 2-3 months before they want you).
  • If you are looking for a very niche or specialist role, or want to work for a smaller organisation, again they’re unlikely to be recruiting a year in advance.
  • If you want to get into one of those graduate schemes, the fast-track-into-management programmes, particularly if they’re with a “big name” employer, then you should seriously consider focusing on your career at the start of your Masters, or you may miss out for another year.
  • If you’re not looking for a job next but want to get on to a research degree, applications often need to be in by Christmas/January. To be honest, academics have often found “leading candidates” well before that, as keen would-be PhDs make contact and sound them out over the next couple of months. Now’s the time to start your search, particularly if you want any funding.

Help with your Master Plan
I’ve written a document to help Masters at the start of their programmes figure out what they need to do, and by when, to achieve their career aims at the end of their postgraduate degree. It’s a long document – but you won’t need to read more than a couple of pages or so. At the start, there are a few questions for you to answer. These tell you which pages are relevant to your situation, right now. You can ignore the rest (unless you change your ideas, of course).

It’s available on the Careers Service website, in the Postgraduate section, or you can download it below:

Careers Success for Masters: What to do, when to do it (pdf)

Your Careers Timetable for the year
We have lots of support for you during the year, but certain key events only happen during the autumn. Our Careers Service timetable for 2012/13 is available to download as a pdf, or you can view it here (click on the image for a larger, clearer version):

Don’t panic – plan!
Getting on to a Masters degree proves that you’re smart, and more than capable of managing this whole process. A lot of the resources you will need are already available on our Careers Service website and through CareersLink. I’ll be continuing to highlight support and information through this blog and on twitter – and if you need to speak to one of us, just make an appointment.

(OK, apologies if you have to wait a bit for an appointment – around 15,000 of our students will be looking for a job at the end of this academic year, and they all want appointments in October! However, we will have lots of appointment slots available – just ask.)

2 responses to “A Master Plan for Masters”

  1. I would like to come in for a chat with your team. I understand I can ‘drop’ in at any time within working hours?

    1. Elizabeth (Postgrad blog) Avatar
      Elizabeth (Postgrad blog)

      Hi Chijioke

      You’re welcome to talk to somebody but it’s not quite as simple as just dropping in any time during working hours – the person you need to speak to may be out of the office running workshops, careers fairs or seeing someone else for a pre-booked appointment.

      We do run drop-in appointments each day. These are our “Quick Query” appointments, only bookable on the same day, when you get to talk to whoever’s on duty for 15 minutes. They’re unlikely to be specialists in your field, but it is ideal for getting feedback on applications or for general advice.

      If you need more specialist advice, you need to book in advance to make sure the right careers consultant is available. At the moment, due to heavy demand, we’re only booking these appointments for 15 minutes as well, though later in the semester, we’ll go back to our normal 30 minute pre-booked appointments.

      When you try to book either of these types of appointments, you’ll talk to one of our Careers Information Specialists. They’ll ask you lots of questions – don’t get offended or think that they’re trying to stop you having an appointment. They’re mostly Masters postgrads themselves, specialising in careers information, and there’s a fair chance that they can answer your question there and then, without even needing an appointment!

      Full details of how to book our appointments are here.

      Hope that helps – and that you get to see one of our team soon.

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