Aoiffe McGarry, 23, has a BSc in economics and finance from University College, Dublin and in 2004 began an MSc in finance and investment at Durham. She has now secured a job at Citigroup.
Why did you decide to continue your studies?
The MSc provided everything my future employers needed. So when I was applying to them I could say that I might not have the work experience but I’ve covered relevant areas in my postgraduate study.
How did you fund your postgraduate studies?
In the Republic of Ireland we’re very lucky as we don’t have to pay for undergraduate study. I also worked and self-funded, with the shortfall made up by my parents.
What was the workload like?
We spent the first two months establishing the fundamentals, but from November the workload really took off. We had to hand in assignments throughout the year, which were graded. That really helped because it meant I was spreading my workload and not leaving everything to my exams. We also had weekly seminars to check that we were keeping up with our work. It’s good to get a little push now and again, however motivated you are.
What was it like studying again?
It took me a little while to get back into it. My gap year was great, and it was good not having so much structure in my life. But I did miss studying. I always had an eye on the financial pages and I’d always try to pick up a paper in any part of the world I was in, just to see what was happening in the local economy.
How was it different to undergraduate study?
A lot more was expected of me. It was up to me to find the areas I was most interested in and explore them myself. I also felt as if I was finally getting to grips with my topic. We didn’t just read the books, we debated them.
Did you enjoy it?
I had a fantastic time. With the mix of people in Durham it was easy to integrate.
Advice to those considering taking a postgraduate course:
I didn’t just look at the course as a whole, I investigated the individual skills on offer. There was no point in doing a course if it didn’t match what employers wanted.