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Alumni Interview: Academia
Careers Editor Ella Talbot caught up with one of UoB's 'Top 12 to watch' Graduate Alice Power to find out more about what a Postgraduate Course has to offer.
Last summer, the 300,000th graduate from The University of Birmingham joined the prestigious alumni community. As recognition of this, The University released its ‘Top 12 to watch’ for the Class of 2015, one of which was BA English Language graduate Alice Power. Following this accolade, Alice continued her love of Academia by beginning a MA in English Language and Applied Linguistics at The University of Birmingham. Below, she tells us a bit more about how it feels to be a postgraduate here and why it was the right choice for her.
In a climate of internships, grad schemes etc. what motivated you to choose to do a Masters?
My main motivation to study a Masters stemmed mainly from the extent to which I enjoyed my Undergraduate course. I wanted to continue learning more about my course in greater depth which is exactly what the MA offered me at the time of applying. In addition to this, I wasn’t entirely sure on what career path I wanted to take. Instead of just half-heartedly applying for any graduate job or internship, I wanted to devote more time to my education not only to further my learning but to understand more deeply what career I wanted to pursue. I now know that a career in HR is right for me as well as having the option to study a PhD later on.
“'Your skillset is strengthened hugely when you study a Masters.'
Do you think that your post-graduate experience has added value to your skills set and your employability?
It is true when people say to you that studying for a Masters increases your employability opportunities. It is a very admirable qualification to add to your Undergraduate qualification and this is something I was very much aware of. Your skillset is strengthened hugely when you study a Masters. Not only do you mature even further, you become well attuned to working independently, collaboratively and generally being more committed to achieving the best of your ability, than ever before. Employers recognise the time and effort you invest into a Masters which ticks some immediate boxes and effectively serves as a queue jump in many cases. If you can also get some work experience in the area you want to work in alongside your Masters, then you’re setting yourself up fantastically.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in choosing to do a PG?
I think it was knowing which course to choose. I knew all along I wanted to continue at Birmingham, so I didn’t apply to anywhere else! Initially, I wondered about whether to study a PG in something Business-related like HR but I was slightly apprehensive that if I were to realise I wanted to pursue a career in something different, then I’d have made a wrong choice. That’s why I chose to continue with English Language, as I was aware it could take me into any direction and what’s more, it is an academic subject which is rated highly by any employer.
“'As well as the financial support, my department know me as ‘one of the family’ now '
What is the biggest difference from studying an UG course?
For my course in particular, it is the people I am studying with. It is more multi-cultural as most of the students are from countries all around the world. Today I was in a group with Chinese, Arabic and Belgian students! I guess I am quite lucky in that sense as I’m becoming more aware of people’s different cultures, ideas and knowledge that they bring to the table. An obvious difference that any PG student will tell you is the level of difficulty that increases from an UG course to a PG one but everyone is in the same boat so you support one another and who doesn’t love a good challenge!
What support have you received from the University of Birmingham?
The support I have received and continue to receive is incredible. I was granted 2 scholarships when I applied for the MA programme – one was the Birmingham Masters Scholarship and the other was the Distinguished Alumni Scholarship. There are many more scholarships and sources of funding that you can apply for which are all on the Uni’s website so I recommend taking the time to research these. As well as the financial support, my department know me as ‘one of the family’ now which is really nice. I can therefore talk to any of my lecturers about any issues or general queries I have which they’re always so willing to help with. This is a major advantage of applying to stay on at Birmingham and you know that there are plenty of familiar faces around you to help you with your career prospects.
Would you recommend a PG course?
Of course! Ultimately, if you love learning and want to prove to the world further that you are capable of amazing things then a PG course is absolutely the right thing to do. Just think, you would become a Master of a particular subject and that’s pretty cool.