A postgraduate course can open up new career options

Don't feel under pressure to dive straight into employment after graduation - a little bit of further study can take your career a long way.

If you haven't made up your mind about what to do next, it's well worth taking the time to look at how you can broaden your long-term horizons with the help of further study. Postgraduate study will teach you additional skills, allow you to specialise or broaden your knowledge, and may even give you a head-start in a competitive job market.

Weigh up your reasons

Is your desire to avoid making a career decision tipping the scales in favour of further study? Postgraduate study is a time-consuming and costly business, so you need to be clear on your reasons for pursuing it.

Your degree subject can be a useful starting point in your decision-making process. Finding out what people on your course have gone on to do in the past can be a source of inspiration or give you an idea of the kind of career paths open to you. Some subjects are clearly vocational and you may have chosen your course for a reason which is still valid in your career planning. Be aware though, that around 40 per cent of graduate-level positions advertised do not specify a specific degree discipline, so your degree subject doesn't have to revolve around your future career.

Research courses carefully to make sure they deliver what you need them to, and consider where further study will take you career wise. Employers will also want to know why you chose to extend your studies and which of the skills attained are transferable to the workplace.

The work/study balance

Remember that you can enter the realm of postgraduate study at any stage in your career. If you've found yourself in a job that isn't satisfying your career-needs, a postgraduate course could help you bounce back better qualified - with more options to choose from. Find out if your company are able to help you, financially or with time off to pursue further study. If you want the option to earn while you learn then consider going for a part-time or distance learning course.

You also have the option of working full-time and completing a course independently in your free time. Although this seems like a good way to getting the best of both worlds it will be a huge demand on your time. So only opt for this method if you are sure you can dedicate your weekends and evenings to keep up.

Study your way into a profession

If all your research and soul-searching activities are pointing to a career that your graduate degree doesn't relate to, you might consider making the transition to your desired sector through a conversion course. It is possible to convert from most disciplines into law, property, science, construction and teaching. Look into how favourably your chosen course is viewed by potential employers. If it is beneficial to the company, they may even provide funding.

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