A communications course is an increasingly popular choice among undergraduates, but as there are more and more graduates, there may be little which lets them stand out from the crowd. A postgraduate course in communications could make all the difference. Deciding whether or not to undertake postgraduate study may prove a difficult task, but you can weigh out the pros and cons of whether spending extra years studying will be worth your time to ultimately answer the main question: what are the benefits?
Bryony Cosgrove, Head of Publishing and Communications at Melbourne University, said “the main benefits in terms of employability and rewards from further study in communications is that not only are the programs taught by industry practitioners, with broad-ranging industry links, but “Students gain from the hands-on approach to teaching and the exposure to industry experts in regular seminars, in guest lecture series and in the internship placements.”
Indeed, postgraduate study equips students with a range of transferrable skills, from people skills, task skills to self-management skills as well as course/industry specific skills which will be very attractive to future employers. As work is more intensive, and veers away from the more general teaching which is normal for undergraduate study, postgraduate course work is more intensive and specialised which suggests to any employer a candidates workplace suitability.
A 2010 Graduate Careers Australia (GCA) survey found that 76.2 per cent of postgraduate were in full time work, 83.3 per cent of Humanities postgraduates were in full time work, the median salary being $45,000. Furthermore, postgraduate study allows for the opportunity to continue in academia, pursuing either Masters Research or Doctoral research, which can lead to research positions in universities, contributors to academic journals, or lecturers.
A postgraduate qualification in communications can also provide that much needed point of difference in the increasingly competitive communications field. This kind of added experience added a competitive advantage to Emily Harris, a former postgraduate Editing and Communications student at Melbourne University. Harris, who completed the award in 2010, now works for Penguin Australia.
“While my undergraduate was definitely useful, doing the postgraduate linked me to a lot of industry professionals, especially through the internship program, which, however, involved a lot of hard work.”
Another example of how postgraduate study can be beneficial is Jordana Rooz, advertising co-ordinator at Cosmo magazine.
“I don’t think my undergraduate studies did so much in terms of teaching how the journalistic world works but my postgraduate studies definitely did. My masters (in Arts/Journalism) taught me how to write to deadline, how to write my own stories – things like that.”
From an employer’s perspective, those who hold a postgraduate award are looked upon favourably. Carl Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, stated, “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.”
Although there are clear benefits in terms of employment with postgraduate awards, it is important not to forget to stay motivated, seek work experience and heighten networking skills.
“Students should familiarise themselves with as many aspects of the publishing and communications industries as possible through networking (organisations such as the Society of Editors and the Wheeler Centre), keeping abreast of industry news through appropriate websites and blogs, attending writers’ festivals both as audience members and as volunteers, and spending time in a variety of retail outlets,” said Ms Cosgrove.
Most postgraduate communications courses are offered as conversion programs so your previous degree does not need to be in the field to be eligible for entry into most programs. If you’re interested in the communications field, browse the Humanities and Social Sciences profiles of the universities you may wish to attend.
This post initially appeared at Hot Courses.
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