Post-Graduate Study for HR Professionals

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Michael_Hands
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Post-Graduate Study for HR Professionals

Post by Michael_Hands » 08 May 2019, 13:39

To anyone in the process of or who has completed their academic studies at a post-graduate level, what advice would you give?

Some possible areas to discuss:

- What course did you do and why?
- Do you recommend studying at the same university as your degree or changing?
- How easy (or challenging) was it to balance work and studies?
- How has it impacted your career following receipt of your qualification?

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LuckyCat
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Re: Post-Graduate Study for HR Professionals

Post by LuckyCat » 09 May 2019, 10:51

Hi Michael

Great question

I completed two post grad qualifications, and both at different Universities to where I did my undergraduate degree.

To be fair different factors influenced my decision, so for example at the time NTU was a CIPD Centre of Excellence (for my Level 7) and Sheffield Hallam I was able to undertake my Masters remotely. Cost was also a factor and given I was working FT how much time I needed away from work.

So I guess in summary it depends. Personally I liked working within different Unis and meeting a different set of people.


What are you thinking of going on to do?

Sarah

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DrK
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Re: Post-Graduate Study for HR Professionals

Post by DrK » 14 May 2019, 17:59

I've completed postgraduate studies (although not in HR) both at the same uni as my undergraduate degree and also at a different one. I did one of these in the same discipline before I started my career, and the other in a completely unrelated one some years later as a mature student.

I personally don't think doing a masters in pretty much the same thing as your undergraduate degree (eg generalist HR --> generalist HR) will help you that much in the workplace, unless you need it to get a specific professional qualification (eg level 7 CIPD). Certainly not enough to justify the cost of it. From what I've seen, someone with a degree plus a year of work experience is likely to be more desirable to an employer than someone with a degree and a masters in the same general subject, but no experience. Instead, I think it's probably of greater benefit to use your postgraduate studies to either become an expert in a specific specialist area relating to your undergraduate degree (eg generalist HR --> industrial relations, generalist HR --> international HR, generalist HR --> employment law), or to broaden your expertise into a different but allied discipline (eg HR --> business, HR --> psychology, HR --> information technology). This second option is easier than you might think, as for example I know from my own experience that you can complete a masters in psychology in just one year, even if you only have a totally unrelated non-psychology undergraduate degree. I imagine the situation is likely to be similar for other subjects.

I'd say try a different uni for your postgraduate studies. It will give you a another perspective on your discipline, and also allow you to widen your network of professional contacts amongst academics, other students, and those in the business world. This can help you to both get a job in the first place, and then to advance in your career. The more people you are connected with, the more opportunities will come your way. Also, if you did well in your undergraduate degree, you will have the option of doing your masters as a 'more prestigious' university, and so 'upgrade' your CV. Again, this can open doors for you workwise.

I'd also suggest considering delaying your masters until you've worked for a while. That way you'll then have a clearer idea of which areas of your discipline you're really most interested in. Also, this makes it easier to choose topics for projects and dissertations, as you will have many 'real world' issues and scenarios that you've experienced in the workplace to draw on for inspiration, and a deeper understanding of how they actually work in practice. Although studying and working simultaneously is difficult, if you can manage it you'll often find that your employer will be willing to cover the course fees for you, as long you're studying something related to their business. Alternatively, if you can manage to save money while working, you also have the option of taking a career break to focus on studying, although it can be hard to readjust to having a lower income whilst doing this. Some employers may even be prepared to give you a sabbatical where they keep your job position open for when you complete your studies.

If you do decide to stay on at the same uni, or study the same subject, make sure you can come up with a good reason for for that choice. Indeed, you'll also need to be able to explain why you chose to do a masters at all. Otherwise it can just look like a case of lethargy, lack of direction, or simple working-life avoidance to future employers.

Matilda
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Re: Post-Graduate Study for HR Professionals

Post by Matilda » 15 May 2019, 12:58

I would definitely recommend post-grad study as we never stop learning in jobs and life anyway - so you might as well formalize it.

In answer to some of your specific questions:
- Do you recommend studying at the same university as your degree or changing?
I don't think it matters in terms of end qualification but it can help in terms of life experience. It can be good to see new places, meet new people and experience new environments, build your network etc.,

- How easy (or challenging) was it to balance work and studies?
It is not easy - but provided you can be organised it is manageable. You may lose some evenings or weekends doing your studies but as long as you are aware of this and can plan - it is fine.
The positive is that by doing qualifications alongside working can really complement each other. I found I could confirm and reiterate what I learnt studies in real life work situations, or use real life situations at work to apply to theory in my studies - all aiding my understanding.

- How has it impacted your career following receipt of your qualification?
I have proven to myself what i can achieve which has given confidence. I can't quantify this but I am sure this has made a difference to my career.
It has supported by ability to do my current job, underpinning learning and skills.
My current role required post-grad study so it was a contributing factor to getting the job I have now.
Since then I have achieved further studies and I know they will be appealing to future employers. Partly because it can be part of job specs, but also as it shows my eagerness for development, learning, commitment to things and ability to juggle it all.

Hope this helps
Matilda

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