So the last 18 months, lets discuss the journey of undertaking a masters, working full time and trying to fit in a social life at that.
I have just finished - a few weeks through and on the other side - my masters at University Arts London, studying Fashion Journalism and looking back at the year it has had a crazy amount of ups and a lot of stresses like any courses do. The reason behind my choice of masters degree was to enhance my writing skills and get into magazines/newspapers , gain an in-depth knowledge of the industry and delve into some work experiences along the way. It was a journey not only involving an educational growth but a personal one too. The move to London was my first time out of my family home and city, it was the first time that I would be financially dependent and no longer leave my washing for my Mum to do. So sitting back and thinking about the last 18 months has been a journey of excitement, hard-work, stresses but also a lot of fun, pushed to my limits at times, my personal growth has been a venture that I am extremely proud of.
If your thinking of venturing into further study post-graduate level, I thought this piece would be a great way to gain an insight into one woman’s time as a masters graduate. Instead of writing a lengthy post I have put my top tips together for anyone about to embark on a master’s degree or who is half way through it and needs that push - trust me, I’ve been there.
- Can you afford it? - Although master’s degrees are now funded and I was lucky enough to start in the year that the post-graduate loan’s were available, it is still a pricey commitment for the next year to eighteen months especially if you are doing an arts based degree. My accommodation and degree was only partly covered and I had saved my undergraduate loan from the previous three years to finance my move to London ( long-term planning and God at that, made it all possible) as well as receiving a scholarship for my 1st in my under-grad, so it was a lot of handwork planning the move even before the degree had started. Even during the year with projects, printing and binding wasn't cheap and thats not even covering my final project. As my grade was dependent upon a final project it involved the production of a magazine, that included production - so think models, studio hire, photographers, graphic designers and then contributors, printing and reports, all which wasn't free. I was working pretty much full time during my masters to fund my monthly rent and day-to-day living, which then could help with all of the additional costs. Financially it wasn't easy but I was determined to make a success of the year, even with some help from my parents when short, it has taught me to be so smart with my money, definitely a skill I will use for a lifetime.
- Have Fun with it. - I think the most important part of your Masters has to be you enjoying it, I found that throughout the whole 18 months, it was not as difficult to balance everything or even work around the workload. But because I was thoroughly enjoying learning around my topic and understanding the industry, 50%, okay maybe 25%, of the stress was taken away from the course because I was genuinely enjoying it.
3. Make the most of the year. - So not that a full-time masters and job wasn't enough, I knew that I really needed to gain some experience within the industry. So I interned at Suitcase Magazine and GQ Magazine and gained some incredible contacts. There really isn't any magic formula’s to gaining work experience, I just produced a bomb-ass CV and emailed, emailed and emailed until I got a response and voila, it all worked out and interning at both of these magazines were not only a dream come true but gave me some first-hand experience outside of my course and in the industry that I am striving to be in. I attended extra classes in uni, I can now use Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator to an impressive level, and have learnt the tools needed to become a successful entrepreneur and business woman all through late-night talks and hearing from so many successful people within the industry.
4. Study something you love. - This seems obvious but honestly you need to, especially at a post-grad stage because the level of dedication and self-study needed makes 3rd year seem easy - honestly! There were many points over the past year that I hated writing, hated thinking of new story features and just wanted to read an article without thinking about its stand firsts, selling lines and captions but I honestly loved every minute of it and that only because of my passion for writing, the thrill and freedom that it gives me is unmatched by anything else. So the days in the library researching through archived Vogue issues or sourcing photographers from The Gentlewoman were all worth it - I have learnt am incredible amount even through the hardest times of the course.
So, if your thinking if a masters is worth it? TOTALLY! but is it easy? ABSOLUTELY NOT! each student has had they own journey but when I look back at each moment or my final project. I am completely grateful to have taken on the opportunity and the stress that had come in its place.