What have you gained from postgraduate study?
Ideas for how to explain the value of your postgraduate studies to employers or postgraduate admissions tutors.
You have invested a lot of time, energy and money into studying for a postgraduate degree, so you will want to make sure employers (or admissions staff) value what you have gained from it.
Employers in particular will not always automatically recognise the value of a postgraduate qualification although they can see them as valuable if you market the experience effectively. If your postgraduate degree is vocational or the subject is relevant to the type of job that interests you, then you will have an easier job ‘selling’ it to an employer. If not, you will have to convince employers that your postgraduate degree has enhanced your skill set beyond your undergraduate degree.
If post-graduate qualifications are undertaken for the right reason and graduates are able to explain their worth to prospective employers, they can be very worthwhile additions to a CV
At the start of your course you were encouraged to set goals for what you wanted to achieve. Did you record your reflections on them? Revisiting them now will help you identify the additional skills and experiences your postgraduate course has equipped you with. How far have you come in achieving your goals? What would you have to offer to an employer as a result of your postgraduate experience?
The ideas below may be helpful.
You will have gained specialist knowledge of your subject (and possibly related areas) through the courses, seminars and conferences that are part of your postgraduate study.
By the end of your degree, you will also have carried out an in-depth research project and written a dissertation on a subject that may be of interest to employers. Employers will value your experience of independently managing a (research) project, irrespective of its subject.
You may have acquired specific technical skills relevant to your field of study (e.g. laboratory, IT, research or language skills). You will also have developed or improved valuable academic and / or work-related skills. These may include:
- Independently managing a (research) project
- Exhibiting the capacity for critical thinking and analysis
- Using knowledge to solve problems creatively
- Working collaboratively with people from different disciplines and cultures
- Being able to apply critical research and enquiry skills
- Being professional in your approach to work
- Dealing with complex, unpredictable issues and making informed decisions based on incomplete information
- Taking responsibility for your own learning and development
- Critically examining texts and extracting meaning
- Communicating your ideas effectively in different ways and to people with different levels of knowledge
- Being a self-motivated and independent learner
You may have gained work-related experience through work placements, volunteering, part-time work, work-based projects or your dissertation. This experience may be related to your future direction but if not, it will still provide evidence of work-related skills.
You may have engaged in other university activities, such as being a class representative, or a member – perhaps a leading member – of an academic or social society. You may have participated in university sport, music or other activities, as an individual, team member or coach. These experiences will have enhanced your skills in areas that will be of interest to employers, such as team working, communication and leadership.
Use the recording sheet below to keep track of ways in which you have demonstrated skills and attributes that employers are looking for and will want to see evidence of.