PG Careers

So what’s different about postgraduate careers?

Well, you’re a much more diverse group than undergraduates – in terms of age, life and work experience, ambition, and sometimes self-confidence. Here’s a few initial thoughts on careers for postgraduates which I can add to as this blog progresses.

Research Postgraduates

If you’ve been doing a research degree, you may find yourself under pressure (subtle or otherwise) to follow in the footsteps of your supervisor. This can be great encouragement if you do want a job in academia – we’ll help you figure out how to make that a reality.

However, if you’re weighed down with guilt and thoughts of being “a failure” for considering a job outside academic research – get down to the careers service straight away! We’ll give you the space to figure out what’s really right for you, and reassurance that the rest of your life doesn’t have to be determined by the choices you made at the start of your research degree.

Now you’ve pushed back the frontiers of human knowledge, what else do you want to do with your life – earn shedloads of money as an investment banker, become a writer, technology consultant, President of Iceland (sorry, that job’s already been taken by one of our PhDs)? Have a browse through some of the links on the right hand side for examples of “what happened next?” for other research postgrads.

Postgraduate Masters

Really difficult to generalise here – your career needs and choices all depend on your circumstances.

  • If you’re doing a Masters straight after an undergraduate degree, without a lot of work experience, many employers think of you as more of a “super-undergraduate”. You’ve shown commitment and perhaps some specialisation in taking a Masters degree, but the jobs you can go for may be basically the same as the undergrads.  However, you’ve got another year’s experience, and if you’ve used your extra year to add achievements to your CV (in addition to academic qualifications) you can really stand out in a mixed group of undergrad and Masters applicants. This is particularly relevant when you’ve taken the chance to do a Masters specialising in the area in which you want to work eg. opting for a management Masters after a different undergrad degree.
  • If you’re doing a Masters mid-career (or at least after a few years of employment following your undergrad degree), it depends on whether you are trying to build directly on your past experience, or using this as an opportunity to change career. Even if you’re trying to re-invent yourself in a new career, there are ways of presenting your previous achievements in a way which can add credibility to applications for quite different types of job.

No Glib Answers …

These examples show just how difficult it is to generalise about postgraduate career needs, which means that not every entry in this blog will be relevant to you. However, if you want me to address a postgrad careers issue which you think will be of relevance to other postgrads, post a comment on the Feedback page and this will help me improve the support we can give you, whether it’s a new blog post, a new event or service, improved training of our careers staff, or an improvement to our official website.

Career Essentials for Postgraduates

To get you started, there are slidecasts (slides plus audio commentary) of some of our essential careers talks for postgraduates on the On-Line Talks page.