Man presenting in front of an audience

April 24, 2019, by Katy Johnson

How I Put My Postgraduate Experience to Work

By Kirstin Barnard, Employability Education Projects Officer

I wanted to write this blog to share my experiences about how completing my postgraduate course not only gave me an extra level of qualification, but also a springboard to a new set of skills and strengths for my career journey.

In the beginning

Having had a successful career in the voluntary sector, and taking a break to look after my children, I was really excited to expand my career horizons by starting a postgraduate course.  Naively when I started the course, I didn’t realise the amount of work I would be undertaking. I soon had to get my head around this and work in a smarter way – if I wanted to see my children – and at first, this took time and planning.

During the postgraduate course, I developed new skills that I could practice in a safe environment and it gave me confidence in using these in the future. This was a springboard for me to think about how I was now going to use these newfound skills and strengths back in the workplace.

Things I’ve learned and still use in the workplace today

The biggest learning curve for me was planning and time management; these are skills that are invaluable to me now as I have two jobs.  Employers really value independent working – to get on with a project from inception, to writing a project plan to implementation while juggling multiple pieces of work.  This is something, as a postgraduate student, you will be constantly doing.

Delivering presentations was part of a previous role but the number of times I had to complete assessed presentations and workshops increased significantly on the course.  Learning to stand in front of people and speak with confidence is a skill that’s useful within any role. It could be something you really enjoy and could take you to another level in employment.

Takeaway tips

This is a quote from one of our alumni who really sums up the positive impact of completing a postgraduate course.

“My masters definitely helped me develop my career as it covered so much more than just historical facts.  It exposed me to language skills, analytical thinking, international collaboration, independent working, and so much more besides.  It certainly provided me with some great talking points for my CV and in interviews” 

As a postgraduate student, you have gained invaluable skills and strengths during your time at the University such as:

  • problem-solving
  • time management
  • building networks and relationships
  • critical thinking
  • reflection

Considering this list, what skills have you developed during your course?  And how can you get this across to prospective employers in the future? When an employer looks at your application form and CV, they will need to clearly see evidence of your skills and a direct correlation with the requirements of the job.

During your postgraduate course, you will have:

  • become an expert at time management; juggling multiple essays and projects. This will show an employer you can manage your own workload while working to a project plan
  • analysed and researched information and data, highlighting your excellent analytical and research skills
  • delivered presentations and undertaken research – key requirements for jobs in industry and academia
  • developed your writing skills producing a succession of essays and presentations. Use this to your advantage when applying for jobs by showcasing as one of your top strengths – being able to write quickly, scanning information and understanding the wider context.

All these are fantastic examples to use at the application stage and then in your interview. Take a look at our PhD website and our postgraduate taught webpage for advice on making your next move. 

Posted in Careers AdvicePhD StudentsPostgraduate Taught Students