Post 1, July 2012
Samantha Dawson studied BA (Hons) Media, Culture and Communication at the University of Sunderland. She is now doing the MA Media Journalism at Newcastle University.
I remember my first day at university; surrounded by new people, gathered in a new place, listening to the welcome speech from my new lecturers and hearing the words, ‘the next three years will fly by.’ Too quickly, I found myself in a cap and gown, shaking the hand of the chancellor and smiling for my graduation photo.
Finishing a degree can be stressful, suddenly the daunting realisation of '…what now?' begins to loom. With the sleepless nights spent reading and typing behind you, you enter the next stage; putting the degree you’ve worked for to good use. There are two options: find a job or continue studying.
Personally, I chose to continue studying. If a Masters would provide you with skills that are absolutely essential for your chosen career path that were not taught on your first degree, then I would say it could be right for you. I had two choices in mind when starting my first degree - primary school teacher and journalist. I was always prepared to do some sort of postgraduate qualification - either a PGCE or an MA.
Please be aware that postgraduate study is not for everyone. The work load can be chaotic, there is little funding available, and realistically you will end up in more debt. Bursaries and grants are available but fiercely competitive. I would suggest thoroughly researching into them and applying, but be prepared - if a Masters is what you want, you may have to pay out for it yourself, or, for those slightly more fortunate, make a withdrawal from the Bank of Mum and Dad.
I owe Barclays £8,500 for my Professional and Career and Development Loan (PCDL) for a £4,500 degree, which I start repaying in August 2012, even though I don’t graduate until December 2012 and have no full-time job yet. University fees have changed since, so do look for current fees. The bank will pay your full fees providing that you are not employed and have not been employed for three months prior to applying. If you do work, even part time, and have any income in the last three months, you will be entitled to 80% tuition fees. You are expected to find work while on your course, so do not be shocked when you see how much the bank is willing to contribute to living expenses. Further information can be found on PCDLs at GOV.UK - Professional and Career Development Loans .
To find work, universities have career services and job boards to help you, while Prospects' graduate job search tool is also very useful. In my opinion, these are often better than other job websites, as the roles posted are ‘student-friendly’; time restrictions and deadlines are taken into consideration.
At times I have had more than one job at once, as well as doing my MA and taking on voluntary journalism experience. It is not easy, but I genuinely love what I do, and I do believe hard work pays off. Nothing worth having ever comes easily but if you are prepared to put in everything you have, you can succeed.
This website is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with CSS enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets if you are able to do so.