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7 Reasons Why You Should Consider Postgraduate Study Before Starting a Job

So, you’re coming to the end of your time at university, and you’re thinking of getting a job.

Maybe you’re keen to get your foot on the career ladder as soon as you can. Or perhaps you’re not ready for a career just yet, but you’re considering getting a job while you figure out what it is you would like to do.

Either way, there’s a good chance you could be better placed for the world of work with a postgraduate qualification, whether it be a Masters or a PhD.

Here are a few reasons why:

#1 You’ll be better qualified afterwards

This is the obvious one:

The longer you study, the better qualified you will be. If you decide to do a Masters or a PhD, you will graduate with either far more specialism in your current field, or with new skills in a subject or vocation you’ve never studied before.

As well as adding a few shiny new letters to your name, this will be a huge asset when it comes to competing in the job market.

In some cases, a postgraduate course could open up a whole new profession you never thought was an option for you, or that you thought you waved goodbye to a long time ago. For example, you could now be a GDL or a PGCE away from a job as a lawyer or a teacher.

What’s more, data suggests that postgraduate degrees are valued by employers, and could help you to secure a higher salaried job in the future.

Of course, if a great graduate opportunity presents itself, you should go for it.

But, if not, hold your horses on the job hunt, and think about doing a postgraduate degree first. After all, you’re likely to land an even better position once you have gained another degree.

#2 Gaining work experience while you study

Another year (or more) at university may mean waiting longer before establishing yourself on your chosen career path. But it doesn’t necessarily mean passing up on work experience.

You can boost your postgraduate experience by taking on a part-time job or professional placement alongside your Masters or PhD.

Whether you do this in term time or university holidays, it’s bound to make your CV look more impressive when you do come to apply for jobs.

What’s more, a work experience placement could give you a better understanding of where it is you would like to work after you graduate.

Placements like this don’t necessarily need to be unpaid. With at least one degree already under your belt, you will stand a good chance of securing a paid internship or work placement. Or you could even try freelancing while you study.

Work placements are also a great place to network, and to begin building contacts in your field. Equally, employers are always keen to meet bright, up and coming students who are soon to join their industry.

Play your cards right, and you could walk out of your postgraduate degree with a job or graduate scheme lined up and waiting.

#3 Mark your territory while you can

This one is especially relevant to budding PhD students – particularly those with an eye on an academic career.

When it comes to establishing yourself in academia, there really is no time like the present.

Maybe you’re interested in researching the effect of catnip upon gerbils, or perhaps you’re dreaming of writing on the similarities between Jay Gatsby and Jay Z:

No matter how obscure your interest might be, you never know when someone’s going to come along and snap up it up.

If it ends up emerging as a fashionable or topical area of scholarly interest, academic researchers could soon come a-flocking.

So get in there as soon as you can, in order to establish yourself as an expert in the area and make sure you’re part of the first wave of interest in your niche.

#4 Finding funding

Financing postgraduate study is getting a little easier, with student loans on the table for Masters and PhD programmes in countries like the UK. But not all funding is guaranteed – and availability can shift, year on year.

This can be the case for Masters programmes, but it’s more of an issue for PhD students applying to funded opportunities.

Postponing your doctorate might mean your research project simply isn’t available in the future. Particularly if you’re interested in the sciences, you might be dependent upon equipment and researchers being in place to make your research possible (and affordable).

So, if the facilities and funding are available, you should try to get in there while you can.

Before browsing jobs, make sure you take a good look at all the funding options that might be available to you. There’s really no harm in applying, and if you’re successful you could end up receiving a scholarship, bursary, or sponsorship in order to carry out your postgraduate course.

What could be better than earning while you learn?

#5 Don’t second-guess the future

You might be thinking of starting a job, and returning to university for postgraduate study at a later point.

But you never know what the future might hold, and it’s hard to guess what you’re going to be doing in a couple of years’ time.

Just after finishing your Bachelors or Masters, you will still be in the university mindset, but it might not be as easy to jump back in a few years down the line.

So why not get stuck into your postgraduate degree now, while it’s still fresh?

#6 Beat Brexit

We don’t know exactly what Brexit will mean for postgraduate study just yet, but there’s a strong possibility that fees (and visa requirements) could change for students studying abroad in Europe.

UK and EU students currently pay domestic, rather than international fees. This means that (depending on what and where you study) a postgraduate degree abroad could actually end up being absolutely free, (or at least relatively cheap).

And Brexit may not change this immediately:

UK fee and funding guarantees protect EU students until at least 2019-20 – and apply to postgraduate loans.

Other EU countries will be making their own decisions about the fee and funding status of UK students this coming year, but they won't necessarily be changing this yet.

So if you are thinking of studying abroad in Europe next year, you could still have the chance to do so for relatively little money. Now’s the time to make the most of that amazing opportunity and experience living abroad while gaining a postgraduate qualification!

#7 University holidays

When you begin a full-time job, you can expect around 28 days of annual leave.

Masters degrees, on the other hand, usually offer similar holidays to undergraduate courses. PhDs, despite not usually following the standard university term structure, are also likely to have some flexibility when it comes to holidays.

Sure, you’ll work hard during some of these periods (particularly if you’re following the advice in point #2, above). But you’ll hopefully have the freedom to decide how and when you work during this time.

While this definitely shouldn’t be the only reason you consider doing a postgraduate degree, it’s certainly a pretty nice bonus.

Whether you use these long holidays to revise and gain work experience, or just to soak up some all-important Vitamin D, you can’t go wrong with more holiday time.

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Last Updated: 12 July 2017