Name: Jamie Lyons
Degree and University: Management at Middlesex and a Masters in Human Resources Management again at Middlesex. Jamie has now handed in his dissertation and has secured a full-time job as a Gas Administration Manager for the Peabody Trust.
Direct from undergraduate: Yes
Why did you decide to continue your studies?
I continued in order to expand on the skills I had already developed in my undergraduate degree. I enjoyed the theoretical part of my degree but wanted to go beyond it. Once I did some work placements I thought about what sort of work I wanted to go into. I decided I’d like to go into HR, but most of the companies I was applying for required a CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) qualification, which I didn’t have. The great thing about the degree at Middlesex was that it offered me both the Masters and the CIPD graduate membership which, after a few years of work experience, can be upgraded to a full professional membership. I think the key thing is the people you work with: a Masters allows you to develop your own skills but also to develop other people’s skills. With the postgraduate degree I’ve learnt how to develop an organisation in terms of people skills.
How did you fund your postgraduate studies?
I funded myself through my savings and part-time work at the Peabody Trust and as a store trainer for B&Q, as I’m a part-time student. It’s important to think about how you are going to finance yourself, and to manage your money well.
How was it different to undergraduate study?
With the Masters including the CIPD you are trained to the CIPD professional standard, as opposed to just the theory. This way you are ready to go out and actually do the job. You are required to attend branch meetings and workshops with professionals who are already CIPD qualified so you get to find out what is really happening in the industry. There are also opportunities for reflective learning and personal development planning, which allow you to look at how you have improved. Masters students also have residential weekends away to develop professional skills and team building; it’s a totally different experience. Some of the guest speakers you have at postgraduate level are professionals who have written the textbooks and this is one of the most exciting aspects of the degree.
The classes tend to be about practical management. We discuss theories, but then we talk about what happens in practice using examples given by the students of real life scenarios. You use your own knowledge and look at different perspectives from other people in different organisations. This gives you a better outlook on situations.
Do you have any advice for those taking a postgraduate course?
Choose something that you definitely have a passion for. I’m doing it part-time and it will take nearly two and a half years to complete. It’s time-consuming and challenging, and there are obstacles along the way, so you need to be passionate and self-motivated. In order to get the results you need to be prepared to give up your own time and work over the weekends in order to finish all the work. If, like me, you are working at the same time, you need to make sure that your employers will support you. You also need to consider how it will reflect on your job at the end. If, for example, you need to be qualified by a professional body then you need to make sure that your postgraduate degree contains that, otherwise you will complete your Masters and need to go on to even further training. Finally, make sure you use the knowledge around you: the library, your lecturers and other students will all offer you a wealth of knowledge.