What could a postgraduate course offer you?

Six students from a wide range of courses share their experiences and advice

What was the biggest thing your postgraduate course had to offer you?

When researching my postgraduate options, I looked at the people in the industry whose careers I would aspire towards. Many of them had one thing in common: this course. That realisation made me determined to follow in their footsteps. Entering the course, my hope was that I would learn everything that I needed to start to build a career in the industry. I am where I am today as a result of the connections that I made during my time in UCD.

The cultural policy modules challenge you to explore your thoughts on key industry issues. A large part of leading an organisation comes down to trusting yourself, having the ability to clearly articulate your view and listening to understand other people’s views. Having a safe space to develop these skills has really stood to me.

During the Arts Lives module we got to sit down with industry leaders, hear about their career journeys and ask questions. One valuable lesson that stuck with me was that leaders don’t always immediately have the answers – rather, that they just need to have the tenacity to figure it out.


– Sarah Costigan, MA Cultural Policy and Arts Management, UCD 2011, deputy director of the Little Museum in Dublin

Why did you decide to undertake a postgraduate course?

It's such a requirement now in Ireland to have a master's for a lot of jobs. And also, I wasn't finished with college. My undergrad was only three years, so I just though to add on another year and have the full four years in college would be so much better. And it helped me get a job straight away. I was in a job before I even finished the master's. We didn't have any work experience or anything, it was just kind of over and I realised that I wanted to stay and still be a student for a little while. And then I could grow my skills while I was at it.

I did an undergrad in multimedia in DCU also. It was very good at building skills in a lot of areas, but it wasn’t very specific. I wanted to go down a certain route. Multimedia has a lot of sides to it, one of it being marketing. I wanted to make my skills stronger in that area. The digital side of it is getting very big, especially with Covid and everything, it’s so easy to do everything at home, digitally.

– Raluca Andronic, MSc Digital Marketing, DCU 2021, Travel Media

What was the biggest takeaway learning from your postgraduate course?

My skillset changed, my confidence grew and the lens in terms of the area I was working in expanded. There was a real global lens, so I learned to look at things in a global perspective. The course was online and lot of my colleagues on the course were from different countries so they were coming to class from different parts of the globe, working in really difficult circumstances; some were surgeons, some were nurses, some were healthcare workers.

It was really interesting to hear how they were doing on a personal level, and then professionally gaining from their expertise and the challenges they were facing. Because I had worked in health inclusion for the previous 20 years, I was bringing that background on marginalised groups, social exclusion and the social determinants of health.

It was very good to bring the expertise that I had professionally into the classroom and then to have that challenged, have that furthered, and explored in a global way. Doing this course allowed me to look at things more thoroughly, which professionally has resulted in me doing more research. It has widened the scope of what I can do.

–Anne Cronin, MSc Public Health, UL, January 2022, HSE

What are the benefits of doing a postgraduate course?

I think the upskilling and bringing yourself up to speed to what’s current is huge. That certainly was the biggest factor for me. I had applied for different roles in different companies, many of which were IT companies, but I often didn’t get past the first interview stage. I sometimes wasn’t even called for interview. I knew there was a big gap on my CV. I had the potential, the interest, but I had a language degree from way back, I didn’t have up-to-date expertise, I didn’t have that bridge, basically. That course gave me that.

I then applied for a role in an IT company. And it was a great experience for me to get through the five-stage interview and get the job. I do put it down to having that one-year postgrad course. I was contacted on LinkedIn seven or eight times by several IT companies wondering if I would be interested in switching. Because there are jobs out there, there are many roles for somebody with somebody with fluency in a number of languages and IT skills. I was still doing my final project in the course when I had already started working. I’m convinced I wouldn’t have had the same outcome, if I didn’t have those skills from that course under my belt.

– Geraldine Brodkorb, Postgraduate Higher Diploma in Languages and Global Software Business, UCC, 2021, Red Hat

How has doing a postgraduate degree changed your career?

I can be more discerning about the jobs that I want now. One of my big motivations for doing the master’s was I wanted to analyse data and I want to be a professional social researcher. Now the master’s has given me those skills, which means that I can apply for those jobs. I was unemployed when I went back to college. I won a scholarship for academic excellence in 2016 and because I got the scholarship, it meant I could afford to do postgraduate study. I’m a lot more informed about social policy now, so it’s great to have a perspective on these things.

About 10 years ago, I was a completely different person. I never thought I would be good enough to be an academic. To go from working in Tesco to this was staggering. I'm a working-class girl, so I felt like someone like me wouldn't be allowed me to have a say in that world, whereas now I know that I can. I'm editing my master's thesis into an article for an academic journal, and I wouldn't have comprehended that even five years ago. It's just amazing to be in this position now where I actually get a say on social policy.

– Philomena Murphy, MA Applied Social Research, Trinity College Dublin 2021, volunteer at Basic Income Ireland

Did undertaking a postgraduate course result in personal growth as well as academic or career growth?

I completed my undergrad in 2019 and I took a year out. I didn’t even know if I wanted to go back and do a master’s. I was working in Specsavers for a year, and then the pandemic hit so I was unemployed and completely idle. Because of that, I decided I was going to go back and do the master’s.

It did a 360 on my personality. I’m 100 per cent more confident, I’m more educated. I know I’m skilled in data analytics, I’ve a keen eye for detail, I can spot grammar errors from a mile a way, which is not something I would have been able to see. I just think I have developed more as a person and because the course was so small, I got to know everyone really well.

Even though I did the course during Covid, I have developed a bit more socially. A lot of our course was in-person because we had a lot of projects and stuff to do. In my job, there’s a lot of group work, teamwork and flexibility. So I can hop on to any projects with other members of the team. I don’t think I would be as skilled or as knowledgeable as I am now if I didn’t do the master’s.

– Niamh Feeney, MA Global Media and Communication NUI Galway, 2021, Careers Portal

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times