Why postgraduate study was the best decision I ever made

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 09:00

Katherine Hockley by Katherine Hockley

I completed my Master's degree in Magazine Journalism over a year ago now. It recently dawned on me how important and influential my decision to undertake postgraduate study was, and I'd like to share with you why that's the case. 

I got into journalistic writing in the second year of my undergrad degree in Philosophy and realised that was probably what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I was worried, however, that I wouldn’t be employable within the industry as my degree wasn’t particularly relevant. Would extracurricular activities be enough to land me a sweet gig at Empire? I was, to say the least, sceptical. 

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Sure enough, once I’d graduated, I saw that having relevant journalism training was often a necessity for a lot of the jobs I was interested in. A friend of mine was doing a postgraduate degree in English Literature the next academic year, so the idea of converting courses and gaining industry-specific knowledge became very appealing to me.

After a lot of research (I wish I'd had this guide when I was applying), I got through my application interview and was all set to begin my Master’s a few months later. The idea of starting afresh with hundreds of different people terrified me, but it turned out to be the most fun as well as the most enriching year of study I’ve ever had.

READ MORE: 4 reasons to consider postgraduate study

Firstly, I learned how to write in several different ‘voices’, and how important that skill was within the writing industry. I wrote copy ranging from Guardian-like pieces; laden with sophisticated and intricate uses of my native english tongue, as well as children’s language: filled with simple and easy to understand words.

Not only was I taught how to write properly, I was given confidence in my writing abilities, allowing me to set up a feminist blog called Zusterschap. This ended up receiving contributions from women all over the world as well as being nominated for several awards, including a Cosmopolitan blog award. 

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Then there was the multimedia element of the course that I never even considered when applying. It turned out that I loved designing magazines and creating content with a DSLR - a far cry from my essay-based degree of the past. It also added several digital strings to my CV-shaped bow.

Let's not forget building business plans, creating market research and writing B2B copy, which prepared me pretty well for the job I am in now. I was also lucky enough to meet some amazing people, and our group dissertation won this year’s BBC Worldwide Best New Magazine Brand of the Year. 

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So not only am I a lot more employable having done the degree, the specificity of it allowed me to dig deep and uncover my passions. When I started writing I wrote mainly about film, but my interests ended up stretching to many other topics, and I don’t think I would have discovered that had I not been forced to write and research different subjects.

For example, I had to interview strangers constantly, and the idea of interviewing people a couple of years ago would have had me pulling my hair out; now I do it on a weekly basis. My postgraduate degree pushed me out of my comfort zone and instilled me with some much needed confidence to succeed in my industry. 

And without my Master’s degree, I wouldn’t be half as valuable to my team as I am now. A huge chunk of my job is based around designing leaflets, banners, and infographics. In fact, I'm sure my position would have gone to someone else had I not undergone multimedia training.

So, undertaking postgraduate study when it’s really right for you, allows you to learn more about the subject you love as well as enhancing your skills in a more focused way. 

Would I recommend it? If I were writing for The Guardian, I'd say: positively. And if I were writing for a children's magazine, I'd say: get nursery out of the way first, then we'll see.


If you're interested in pursuing postgraduate study, check out our postgrad fair this January.

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