Up until now, the sequence of steps you took in your life may have seemed fairly obvious. You finished high school, and chose your undergraduate subject based on your interests. Or perhaps, you didn’t really have strong interests or opinions, and were happy to take advice and direction from your parents or school counsellors.
While our early years are centred around imitating our parents and acquiring a basic education, the next stage is all about exploration and discovering our true self. It is an exciting time, but it can also be confusing and even scary to think about starting your career and actually having to enter the job market.
As you approach the end of your undergraduate degree, you may ask yourself: What’s next? Should you start looking for a job? Or continue studying for a Master’s degree before you take the plunge?
Earning a Master’s degree has numerous benefits:
- It allows you to build on your current abilities and knowledge, and gain further expertise in your chosen subject to become a more competitive player in the job market.
- An advanced degree signals to potential employers that you’re dedicated to enhancing your expertise and credibility, and can make it easier to transition into more senior positions later on, such as management and leadership.
- A Master’s degree can also significantly increase your expected income, depending on your selected field and work country (according to a recent UK government report, the difference can be as much as 44% five years after graduation).
Which subject should you study?
While opting for a Master’s degree has many benefits, it’s completely normal to still feel overwhelmed and not quite confident about subject to choose. In this situation, it’s helpful to adopt a step-by-step approach, beginning with a definition of the desired outcome.
Imagine you are about to go traveling – your first decision shouldn’t be about selecting the means of transportation but gaining clarity on your destination. Likewise, rather than focusing on the seemingly more immediate and pressing questions such as subject and university, the first question you need to answer is what kind of profession or career really resonates with you.
Try to take a long-term view: where do you see yourself in five or 10 years’ time?
When considering different Master programmes and universities, investigate the career perspectives. What do the alumni of these schools and programmes do? What kind of roles do they have five or 10 years after graduation? And you can reverse this too:
What and where did professionals whom you aspire to study? Talk to them and find out what they think about their educational choices in hindsight, and what kind of advice they would give to you.
You may need to do some research and step out of your comfort zone to find the answers, but once you know where you’re going, you will be able to take the next steps with purpose and confidence, and make well-informed decisions about your future.