In the blink of an eye my second year of university is practically finished and so it’s time for me to at least consider the question, ‘Do I continue on to the Masters course?’.
Honestly this has been a very real question since the day I walked into Derby University and was told that they offer, to the right students, a way to get financing in order to continue to this higher level of study. Over these two years I’ve tried to consider the pros and cons and I’m still undecided. Hopefully by getting it all out of my constantly buzzing brain and into black and white that I might make up my mind, so please bear with me.
Moving onto the masters course would allow me to define what kind of designer I am.
This is something that I’ve discussed in my blog before and I’m trying to get my head around. One of the issues I’m struggling with is that as a mature student and having come to university so I can change my career direction, I’m increasingly considering what my realistic options are. Honestly, I can’t see myself working for an amazingly high-profile firm. Instead I envision myself in an agency, churning out leaflets and business cards as a daily routine. Whilst I would like to believe that I’m destined for bigger and ‘better’ things, I don’t see this as a failing. It would allow me to spend time with my family, afford me a comfortable wage to live on, all the while allowing me to express my creativity (as much as working for someone else does).
I think the idea of becoming a world renown, high-flying designer is definitely a thing some should aim for. There’s an increasing population of very talented designers out there and for them the sky is the limit, I encourage them or you to really throw everything you have into accomplishing it if it’s something that you want. For me though, I think my priorities have changed in life and if I don’t recognise that, I’ll struggle to appreciate whatever achievements I do manage.
Employers see someone with a Masters as desirable.
I can’t argue with this, the talent and commitment you need for further studies is admirable and those who do achieve this level of education deserve all the benefits that it brings.
This is what I can’t shake. I feel that I may struggle in the job market due to not being able to offer youth whilst the experience I do have is in different sectors. I believe that If i could attain a MDes, it would be hugely beneficial in countering my doubts.
It’s another year out of practice.
When I say practice, I mean work. I’m 31, I have a house and a partner who has done a miraculous job in supporting and encouraging me, and I’m not sure I can justify another year not earning let alone the additional debt that’s generated by doing it.
Realistically being in the UK, the debt doesn’t bother me. There are so many caveats to when and how I pay it back that it’s just something happens, which is why ‘debt’ won’t feature as a standalone con for my list. What I can’t ignore is that for my particular position I need to be earning, in the two years I’ve been at university we’ve already identified that the boiler needs replacing, the wiring in the house is borderline dangerous, and my fridge makes noises like it’s trying to wander off. These aren’t cheap things to fix, not to mention that we haven’t been able to decorate from the bland beiges the house was decorated in when we moved in – as a designer, it offends me.
It doesn’t provide direction.
Having read a few blogs on this subject in the effort of clearing my head (example https://www.subtraction.com/2011/09/30/should-you-get-a-masters-in-design/) , a general con that I can see the honesty in is that if you’re not 100% on your career direction, studying for another year doesn’t necessarily provide that. I try to live my life learning, any situation I encounter I always tackle it the best way I that I feel is available at the time but I’m a stickler for looking back on completion and considering what my options could have yielded compared to the actual outcome. I’d consider this one of my strengths, as its revealed to me that I learn best, by doing.
If we couple that I’m not 100% where I see myself in three years’ time (in-house, agency or freelance), my style of learning and my need to be earning. Attempting a masters program doesn’t seem like the right thing for me to do, right now at least.
In summary, I can see the benefits to taking my education to the next level. I understand that having an MDes opens doors in some cases and I think if I was either in an earlier or later stage of my life, I’d be able to consider this option with more conviction. However, the truth of it is, I’m not 100% sure on what my career path is. I have ideas that I’ve broached in previous posts. I’ve goals that I can achieve with experience, but right now I don’t think an MDes is the way for me to achieve these.
So what can I do to achieve these goals?
I think the best move is to get experience. I need to figure out where I will be most comfortable – don’t read stagnant. I need to find a place that challenges me in a qualitative way, not a quantitative one. This year I’ve visited a couple of professional agencies and seeing a close-knit team tackle ideas, where everyone has a say and people’s strengths are played upon sounds like the best place to start.
I think I’ve identified my strongest way of discovering these firms starting with a simple google search and following it up with a daunting e-mail or phone call. From the web search I look at the website and their work, clients and gather an idea of personality. If this interests me I can drop and email or call, perhaps drop in and try to organise a scheduled visit or a day where I can follow a member of the team. This would let me assess how that place works, from this I’m more likely to be able to identify if this is a place I could work with the added bonus of that they can already put a face to my name.
After this, it’s all about my portfolio and charm (maybe this isn’t as ‘easy’ as I thought). The goal is to make myself desirable to the company. During a speaker event with our employment counselor she mentioned an interesting fact, that close to 1 in 4 graduate positions in companies aren’t filled. Ignoring that they probably aren’t advertising the job particularly well, it’s down to me to identify where those jobs are and market myself towards them. My plan after all of this is to make my portfolio relevant and keep contact, by this I’ll show that I’m capable of the job, potentially even making a job available if they truly like my work. This is the long game.
Short term, I am in need of experience and ideally money. One option here is to take a part-time shop job (potentially a necessary evil) and with my off time I can volunteer to help out. It worked for me before university where I phoned around several companies asking if they’d be willing to take me on for some work experience to aid in my university application.