Postgraduate study in a pandemic

Youth Ambassador Shanique shares her thoughts and reasoning on deciding between job hunting and doing a masters in a pandemic. 

August 2020 was when I decided to take the leap and enrol on a postgraduate degree. Rather reluctantly at that. The thought of engaging in another degree after graduating just a few months earlier filled me with unease and a little apprehension. I was ready to close the door of education, but the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas.

After graduating in rather underwhelming conditions in the middle of a national lockdown, I found myself facing the dreaded new graduate question of ‘what’s next’. In my head, I was ready to jump into the working world and finally begin my career. Finally, ready to start earning a proper salary. I knew finding a graduate job was not a mission to be taken lightly, but the further my job search was getting, the lesser the opportunities available.

That’s when I made the decision to board a master’s degree. Embarking on another academic journey was a big decision but I knew it was the best one for me. The way I saw it, I could upskill whilst figuring out my next steps. It was a win, win.

A different University experience 

Looking back, I think I naively thought I would have a university experience similar to my first: studying in the library, meeting friends on campus and enjoying my new university campus. Unfortunately, my experience has been anything but. Luckily for me, I was able to engage in some on campus activity where I could finally put zoom names to real moving faces. However, as the country descended into Lockdown 2 and now Lockdown 3 it’s back to Microsoft Team lectures and seminars.

This can be quite difficult for some. I have really struggled with missing the social interaction of meeting with your peers. Studying in a pandemic, especially when you don’t know your classmates, can feel at times quite isolating. As students, we are missing what the corporate workplace calls ‘water cooler conversations’. Those small moments in the line before class or as you’re packing up where you ask if they’ve started the assignment and how they’re getting on with revision.

Studying through Zoom

While studying for a masters in lockdown has not been the most ideal of situations, it has given me the opportunity to really become immersed in the university experience virtually. University events, societies and clubs are still operating but over zoom instead of face to face. This allows the opportunity for me to engage with other students from different degree disciplines and years. A challenging and often demotivating time can be made more engaging through participating in these initiatives. Joining these has made my university experience much more enjoyable and like I belong to a community.

Just remember, while we are living in weird and uncertain times, there are many different support services available at your university. Utilise them and try to engage in different events, clubs and societies outside of your course to help bridge the gap in social interaction.

For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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