5 Things My Master's Degree Taught Me

18 Sept 2018

If you've been following my blog or any of my social media channels over the past year, you'll know that I've been doing my Master's degree. If not, hello there, welcome to the neighbourhood! I started my MA in Multimedia Journalism back in September last year, and because I did a little post to mark 6 months of studying, I thought I'd follow it up now that I've completely finished. It's been an absolute rollercoaster of a time, so I've got a lot to share, but I've whittled it down to a list of 5 things that I learned during my time on the course.
  1. Doing a Master's degree is hard - you might be sitting there thinking, "yes Olivia, we know it's hard, that's what everyone says." Well, what everyone says is absolutely true. I started the year with ease and thinking to myself that the course was an absolute doddle, but when the third semester rolled around, I had so many thoughts of quitting. The workload became intense and there was a month where I had to get cover for all of my shifts at work because I couldn't handle doing both. While I know that that might sound a bit scary, just know that I had such a sense of achievement once it was all done with. And while I haven't got my results yet, I know that the stress will be worth it.
  2. Looking after your mental health is important - speaking of stress... Of course, I already knew that looking after your mental health was important, but it was more apparent to me during my time on my Master's than ever before. During the first two semesters, I did a pretty good job of taking time out for myself and doing self-care bits. But after my break up and the move into the third semester/final project, I became terrible at looking after myself. I would push myself to the limit to try and do my best, not really caring about how anxious or stressed it made me feel. So if you're about to start a Master's or you're thinking about doing one in the future, make sure you look after your brain. You aren't quitting by taking a break from your studies to have some 'you time'.
  3. I really am smarter than I thought I was - if you've read my 6 month post, you'll know that this was the third point in that list too, but it still stands another 6 months on! All of my marks, except from one and my unknown final project marks that I'm waiting on, have been Firsts, with the majority being above 80%. I still can't quite believe it and sometimes think they're complete flukes, especially when I remember that I was getting 2:1s in my English degree. But it goes to show that if you put the work in and turn up to classes, you get the marks you deserve.
  4. There is such thing as a good group project - I know I'm not alone when I say that I hate group projects, but they're unavoidable in a taught Master's degree. All my past experiences with them haven't been the best and I've usually ended up being the person that carries the group. However, my MA has shown me that there is such thing as a good group project. I know, it's a shocker! But there are people that want to listen to your ideas, know how to execute things well and share out jobs to make projects run a whole lot more smoothly. While it's important to have a support system for yourself, it's also important to have a strong support system within the group project dynamic, and it's been proven to me that it exists!
  5. You don't need to get a grad job straight away - if you've just graduated, you might be in the same boat as me. There's pressure from all angles to get a graduate job as quickly as possible and anything less is absolutely out of the question. It sucks that this sort of belief is pushed upon us as soon as we finish university, but thanks to support from the odd family member and the kindness of strangers online, I've learned that there is no rush to get a grad job. I don't think that I'm in the right place mentally for something 9-5 and I also don't want to jump into a job that I don't think I'll enjoy. I'd much rather work somewhere that I know I'll love until an opportunity that speaks to me comes up, and I honestly don't think there should be any shame in that.
I told you it was a bit of a rollercoaster! While some of these points are a bit scary, some of them are uplifting, so take as much positivity as you can from this post. Yes, I found the last year difficult, but I would do it all again in a heartbeat. I've loved my time at university and I've met people that will stay with me for years to come, and who knows - I could end up back there to do a PhD!

So whether you're starting university this month, you've just graduated or just handed in your last piece of work like me, good luck with the future. Make it what you want it to be!

Whould you like to comment?

  1. This is really interesting! I've got a BA in English but didn't really attend class or put in enough effort which was really reflected in my grade so I never considered a master's but this post has kinda changed my mind a little


    1. Ooooh I'm really interested to see if you decide to do one or not! x

  2. I love that first one...it's hard! well done for getting through it