Supporting Taught Postgraduates

Generating / researching career ideas

You may find it challenging to generate ideas for career directions, or to identify opportunities for progressing within your current career. Here are some ideas and resources to help with both.

Generating career ideas

To generate ideas for career directions you could

  • Look at the jobs previous graduates in your disipline and related disciplines have moved on to. You can use online platforms such as LinkedIn and Platform One to search for these.

University of Edinburgh Alumni on LinkedIn

Platform One

  • Explore career areas linked to your broad subject area.

What next with your degree?

  • Use a career interest guide such as the Career Planner. Although this is not specifically targeted at postgraduate students, they can be useful starting points.

Career Planner

  • Browse job vacancies on the Internet to get an idea of the variety of options out there. If something sparks your interest, you can research that career area further.
  • Be curious! Talk to people you meet about what they do and take note of the occupations around you.
  • Use social media forums such as LinkedIn and Twitter to expand your network and look at career paths in areas that interest you. Although the University of Edinburgh alumni group is a good place to start you can search more broadly for companies in sectors of interest, or profiles of people working in occupations you are considering.

Using social media

Researching career areas

To make good career decisions, you need to have high-quality information about jobs that interest you. Here are some ways of gathering this information.

  • Explore career possibilities. Use the ‘Occupations’ part of the University of Edinburgh Careers Service website to access information about a wide range of careers.

Occupational information

  • Network. Talk to (or connect online with) people in career areas that interest you. Ask friends, family, fellow postgraduate students or staff in your School if they have any contacts in areas of interest to you. Platform One is a University database of alumni who may be happy to talk to our students and graduates about their careers; you can search the database for alumni working in areas that you are interested in.

Platform One

  • Consider doing a work-based dissertation, if that is a possibility as part of your programme. Edinburgh University’s Making the Most of Masters programme  provides information for students undertaking a dissertation in collaboration with an employer, working on a real-world project. You should speak to your programme director to see what is possible.

Making the Most of Masters

  • Get experience through a work placement or internship. Depending on your mode of study and time available, it may be possible to organise a short period of work experience in a career area that interests you. It may be difficult to commit to the length of time required by advertised internships (as these are usually targeted at undergraduate students who have a long summer vacation) but you could contact employers speculatively to arrange something informally. MyCareerHub is a useful tool for identifying employers in specific occupational sectors. 


Identifying opportunities for progression

You may already be established in a specific career and want to use your postgraduate qualification to help you to progress.  Here are some relevant questions and courses of action.

  • Do you want to move up the ladder in your current role or move into a different area?
  • If you are working while studying, are there opportunities to progress with your current employer?  Do you want to stay in the same department or move into a different part of the organisation?  Make sure you use your annual career development review process (also know as appraisal or performance review) to discuss options for progress as a result of your postgraduate studies.
  • Are you having career conversations with people who may be able to provide insights into the job market in your area or who are in job roles you would aspire to (colleagues, fellow postgraduate students, professional network connections through forums such as LinkedIn, your employer)? 
  • What have you gained through your postgraduate study that has moved you forward and that may be of value to your current or future employer? How could you ‘sell’ this to potential employers?

What have you gained from postgraduate study?