Opting to pursue a particular Master’s programme is as much a life-changing decision as it is to actually complete one.
I decided to share with PrepAdviser’s audience my personal story of how I chose my Master’s programme.
Getting a Master’s degree was arguably the best decision in my professional life. It was not easy, and it was not cheap, but the results ended up outweighing all the sacrifices I had to endure before and during my one-year stay in London.
How it all started
I graduated from INHolland University in Amsterdam with a pretty good Bachelor’s degree, though admittedly, at a pretty bad time. The year was 2009 and the Global Financial Crisis was in full swing. It was around this time that the European labour market started to feel the weight of Wall Street’s crash on its own shoulders.
But like everyone else, I started applying for work.
Looking back at this period of my life, I could probably characterise it as a time of utter frustration.
I was constantly reminded of the infamous College Graduate Curse: “You can’t get a job because you have no work experience, because you can’t get a job, because you have no work experience”. This nightmare lasted until one day I realised that something needed to change. Drastically.
A Master’s degree was my best next move
It was at this point that my family and I collectively decided that my next best move was to pursue a Master’s degree in order to increase my chances of employment.
Achieving better employability was undoubtedly my biggest motivation to begin the process of choosing a Master’s programme. Of course, there is always the desire to simply become better at what you are doing, to narrow down your professional field, to acquire a skillset that will make you more confident in the workplace. But then again, what are all these worth if you cannot get a job in the first place?
This simple line of thought was the driving force of my entire decision-making process.
The year is 2012. Nearly all of my fulltime job-seeking efforts have failed, except for a few freelance projects here and there. I am now committed to finding a Master’s programme that will change my life and usher me into an age of endless professional achievement.
How I chose my Master’s programme?
The beauty of a Master’s programme is that this is exactly what it is designed to do – offer specialisation in a certain topic. If I have to give one piece of personal advice – this is it.
Think of what your Master’s programme will offer you as a skill, as a craft, as something that will allow you to proudly state at a job interview: “I am confident that I can do this job”. Think of your Master’s programme topic as your future profession.
Having graduated with a degree in Communication Management, I knew that I had to specialise in a similar area. However, Communications is a big field. You can go for Branding, Advertising, Internal Communication, Corporate Communication, or even plain Journalism. But I decided to go for Public Relations.
I will stop here and save my personal story for later. Instead, I will explain the thought process in order to help you make the best decision for yourself.
Let’s take Marketing.
Marketing is composed of four main pillars – Price, Product, Place and Promotion. This is called The Marketing Mix.
The Promotion part of the Marketing Mix has another name: Marketing Communications. And it is Marketing Communications where Branding, Advertising and Public Relations take place.
In my case, I acquired a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Management (read: Marketing Communications), and then decided to specialise further in one of its subfields.
Let’s take Marketing again – but say you graduated with a BA or BSc in Finance.
You want to narrow down your knowledge to the point where you acquire an actual profession.
What will make more sense for you?
My most obvious answer would be a Master’s programme that will plunge you much more deeply into the sea of finance and teach you the skills to work in subfields such as Personal Finance, Public Finance, Banking Finance and Financial Regulations.
But consider this: you have an affinity for numbers and costs as much as you have an understanding of assets and liabilities. That means you are probably very well suited for a job related to another one of the Marketing Mix pillars – Price.
So how about a Master’s degree in Marketing Management, or better yet, Sales Management?
Would that not be a solid choice of profession? A Sales Assistant at first, a Sales Manager in five years, a Sales Executive in seven, perhaps an MBA in between, and finally a Sales Director in ten?
That would be my most logical answer.
The added value of a Master’s programme
Whatever you decide, always remember this: When you finish your Bachelor’s programme, you already have the broad knowledge. It is the choice of a Master’s degree that will most likely define your profession.
My decision to pursue a Master’s degree and the choice of the Master’s programme itself was based on a combination of the following conditions and goals:
- The support of my family and peers (do not underestimate this)
- Good understanding of my main professional field
- Increasing chances for employment
- Finding a Master’s programme that is a profession in itself
My final advice for this post would be to try and meet at least one of each.
Or find out how Master Programmes differ