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Features : For love and money

Thursday 16 May 2013 Postgraduate

A postgraduate course could increase your earning potential and lead you to the job of your dreams.

Work experience is one way to get the skills you need, but you may be lacking that all important specialist knowledge.

This is where postgraduate study comes in. A further qualification can make all the difference between having a job you loathe and a job you love.

‘Do I love my job? Put it this way, there isn’t a day when I don’t want to come into work,’ says Elouise Leonard-Croft, who works in leadership and management development for Your Homes Newcastle.

‘For me this job has the perfect balance between helping people to develop and achieve fabulous things while at the same helping to get the most out of them.

Perhaps best of all is that the organisation is so committed to developing people and working for an organisational culture like that is amazing. Helping to coach and develop people is definitely something I want to be doing at this stage of my career and it’s great that I get to specialise like this at my age.’

Elouise is currently completing a postgraduate course in psychology and, according to research, further study is not only a key to improved job satisfaction but to greater earnings too, especially for women.

It’s no wonder then that Elouise sounds so enthusiastic, although she says that it took her a while to realise that she needed to do a course to perfect her career. ‘I did an undergraduate degree in psychology at Northumbria and worked for the NHS in a similar training function, but it started out as a more generic training role, working with managing the training needs of a smaller department.

I realised that a postgraduate course was what I needed to take me from a more generic training role to really getting out there and finding the exact area that I wanted to be involved with and securing a role in that area.’

Consequently, after returning to Northumbria University, Elouise realised that it wasn’t just a new job that her research was opening the doors to.

After her research into the return on investment for work-based coaching received media coverage, she got an invitation to speak at the prestigious British Psychological Society. ‘Thanks to my course I got in contact with the person arranging the conference.

She knew about my research and asked whether I would consider submitting it as a presentation. I also ended up speaking at the conference and now I’ve been approached to have it submitted to an international society.’

Act of God

It took an act of God to make Rebecca Feduchin-Pate realise that she needed to do something severe to move her career in a different direction. ‘I was working in commercial music radio in the US and I was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina struck.

As result I was displaced from my home and found myself working my way up the ladder in a different commercial music station, but I knew that I really wanted to get into talk radio. I was looking online one night and I came across the Bournemouth University radio station.

I listened to the station and realised that this was exactly the sort of radio that I wanted to be able to produce, so I tracked down the course responsible for it and applied!’

A few years and several thousand miles later and Rebecca is now employed as a broadcast assistant for BBC Radio Solent. ‘It’s one of the largest local radio stations in the UK and it’s great,’ she says.

‘When I went into the Masters I thought that what I wanted to do was produce hard-hitting documentaries, but I learned that in the beginning you’re going to start off editing a lot of other people’s work, whereas in local radio your ideas can be on the radio the next day.

You are also in touch with people so much more because you’re answering phone calls and talking about issues that matter to people around you. It’s great to be able to do something that’s entertaining and educational and does bring people together.’

Dream job

Rebecca is in no doubt that the reason she has been able to get her dream job is because of the course. ‘I don’t think I would have even got to the interviews if I had not gone through this course.

Not only does it give you a much greater set of skills, it helps you to understand what you have to offer and what you can do. I’m an older student and because I’m a mum and a wife it worked out really well that the course was two days a week.

It also had a lot of real-world application and it put me in touch with lots of people within the industry - from scriptwriters, to independent production houses to managing editors. In fact, that’s how I met the managing editor I work for now.’

Elouise is also in no doubt that her course has opened some intriguing doors. She’s now helping to coach managers and leaders, but she does have a word of warning for others who are looking to postgraduate study as a way to their dream career.

‘I’d say go into it with a clear idea of exactly how you want to use your time. Obviously, I think there’s a lot of value in postgraduate research but when you get involved just because the course sounds quite interesting and you think about the cost and hard work involved, you need to know you’re going to get value out of it.’