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The academic year has drawn to a close, and months of summer holiday are stretching happily ahead.
It’s likely that using these sunny months to prepare for postgraduate study hasn’t crossed your mind just yet.
But the earlier you start getting yourself ready, the more enjoyable the process will be. Plus, it doesn’t have to be boring, or take up all your hard-earned relaxation time.
Here are a few things you can do over the next few months, so that you can walk into your Masters feeling confident and well-prepared:
A work placement is a great way to give your CV a boost before your begin your Masters.
When your course is underway, you may find you don’t have time for work experience. Summer is the perfect opportunity for you to spend some time in a professional environment, whether it be for one week or a couple of months.
Of course, a paid placement is ideal. But at this stage, every piece of work experience could prove invaluable in helping you to stand out from the crowd, and getting you that much closer to landing your dream job after your Masters.
So try to squeeze in at least one placement over the next couple of months, no matter if it’s unpaid, or even just a day long!
It’s likely that your Masters will have an accompanying reading list: including core course materials as well as recommended secondary reading. Try to get hold of this in advance, if you can.
Course books can be expensive. The longer you give yourself to look, the more likely you are to find a great bargain either in shops or online on websites such as Amazon or eBay. You could also try searching social media for people looking to sell their old textbooks.
If you don’t have the books, you’re not going to read them. By making sure you have all the texts you need at your disposal, you’ll be able to dip into them at your leisure. Going on a long journey this summer? Take a course book with you!
You don’t need to jump straight in with a hefty tome. Find something on the reading list that you find appealing, and start working through it at your own pace.
The earlier you start, the more material you can get through. Doing this could really help to make you feel comfortable with the course content, and to ease the pressure upon you once your Masters begins.
You can look for your reading list online, on the website for your course. If it’s not available there, try emailing a relevant tutor.
As a Masters student, you will be expected to develop a deep understanding of your subject.
Spend a little time reading beyond your reading list: take a look at the very latest journals and essays published in the subject area that interests you most.
A little extra reading will help show tutors that you have a real passion for your subject when it comes to completing postgraduate assessments.
What’s more, reading can easily be done poolside.
Taking the step up to postgraduate study may seem lonely, particularly if you’re leaving undergraduate course mates behind or moving to a new university.
But you aren’t actually doing your Masters alone. There will be other people on your course in exactly the same predicament as you. Why not try to get in touch with them?
It’s likely you will be spending a lot of time with these people over the coming year or so. Many of you will be joining the course from other universities, and keen to meet new people in the city, so it’s a good idea to put some effort in early on and to get to know your course mates.
By corresponding with them, you can also find out what they’re doing to prepare for the course.
Postgraduate funding could make all the difference to your Masters experience.
While some funding opportunities may have already closed, others are still up for grabs. So don’t be disheartened.
Research all of the funding options available to you, and use the coming weeks to apply to everything you can.
Make a note in your diary of the key dates your university tuition fees will be due, and of the dates you expect to receive instalments of your loan.
If you struggle to find funding, you may wish to find a summer job so you can start saving some money for the coming year. Take a look at our blog post for ideas on how to find a job that could help complement your postgraduate studies.
Today, online presence counts for a lot.
When you apply for a job or for higher education, future employers and university tutors are likely to search for you online.
Social media profiles are a great way to show off your achievements, and can be a brilliant thing to include in applications for jobs, postgraduate courses, and funding.
You can use your free time to begin building the kind of online presence one might expect of a postgraduate student.
Make sure you have a comprehensive LinkedIn profile, a clean, professional Twitter, and a Facebook account that isn’t likely to embarrass you if it’s discovered by future employers.
You can read more about the importance of a professional postgraduate presence (and learn how to craft yours) here.
Once you’ve built a professional profile, you can use media platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn to network with professionals in your industry. Putting your name out there and creating an impressive online presence could be of great help this time next year, when you’re trying to get your foot on the career ladder.
Once you’re immersed in coursework, exams, and your day-to-day Masters schedule, time will fly by, and deadlines for graduate schemes and work experience could easily pass by without your realising.
You can save yourself from any potential heartache by doing your research now.
Research annual graduate schemes, work placements and internships, and any other opportunities that sound appealing.
If need be, invest in a yearly planner, and note down any key deadlines for the next 12 months.
This way, when you’re stuck into the hustle and bustle of campus life, you’ll be able to keep on top of things without letting any great opportunities slip through the net.
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This summer is for relaxation and preparation. But what about next year? We've looked at the effect of postgraduate study on future earnings.
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