The graduate job market has become increasingly fierce in recent years, with many hopeful candidates entering the fray with much the same expertise as their graduate peers. With this in mind, how can students ensure they will stand out from the crowd?
Some will take the option of starting at the bottom and working their way up the career ladder, one rung at a time, gaining practical experience as they go along. But those who favour a kick-start in their chosen profession are increasingly looking towards postgraduate study as a way to hone their knowledge, capitalising on industry exposure and practical workplace experience gained throughout the course.
It’s obvious that the skills obtained through graduate study will enhance your CV and get you ahead of the curve. But it can also prove a valuable investment in your own personal development – improving your confidence as a professional while instilling crucial skills like time management, communication and problem-solving, and giving you the chance to connect with leaders in your chosen field.
Taking a proactive approach to postgraduate study can help project your name into the right circles. Some courses offer integrated industry experience allowing graduates to connect with experts and professionals, an opportunity that may further your ability to secure a successful career upon graduation.
The School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management at Queen Margaret University (QMU) strongly believes in providing industry relevant experience, doing so in a supportive and encouraging environment to ensure your success.
Claire Dilley, an international student on MSc International Management & Leadership with Hospitality, completed her undergraduate degree in her home state of Florida at the second-biggest university in the US. For her postgraduate studies, she wanted a different experience and was drawn to QMU for its friendly, inclusive atmosphere.
“QMU was the perfect choice for me,” says Claire. “The class sizes are smaller and I feel that I have a support system that I didn’t have at my previous school.”
“Because of QMU’s friendly size, you really do get support from your professors, programme leaders and peers. They want you to succeed, so they’re always there to help.”
Situated in Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, QMU students are perfectly positioned to enjoy this historic and culturally diverse city, whilst also enjoying the rest of the UK sitting at their feet.
The School’s Division of Business, Enterprise and Management focuses on three key areas for which they are leaders in today’s rapidly-evolving business setting. These include Business Management, Events Management and Hospitality and Tourism Management.
All of these specialisms enjoy fantastic links with the industries in which they’re set, granting postgraduate students relevant work placements that will further employment opportunities and boost their working knowledge of the field.
In Hospitality-related programmes, students can expect to take part in practical hands-on projects such as running a commercial restaurant, and planning and managing bespoke tours around Scotland.
Fieldwork is also a key aspect of each course with students being exposed to successful local businesses and their best practice ideas.
“Smaller class sizes mean that QMU students get the opportunity to take part in industry visits and experiences that are unavailable elsewhere,” Claire added. Past outings include an overnight stay at the famous Gleneagles Hotel, leadership meetings at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, and visits to food and drink factories like Diageo and Glenkinchie.
“MSc International Management & Leadership and MBA students at QMU also have the rare opportunity to design and choose a business or organisation to work with on a specific final project that is both real and focused around their career aspirations,” the student notes.
The Community Impact and Practice project that Claire is referring to sits in place of a traditional dissertation and is central to the MSc programmes at QMU. This sees students work with voluntary and social enterprises to build leadership skills while gaining business experience and capitalising on opportunities that enhance employability.
“I was passionate about gaining academic and practical experience in the management of festivals, and so having this area as a focus within the programme was a crucial persuasive factor for me,” she says.
“I’d also read inspirational testimonials from previous international QMU students talking about how informative and valuable the MA programme…was to them. They emphasised the practical aspect of the programme and one former student described her entrepreneurial success story.”
And being in the cultural hub of Scotland means there is an abundance of opportunity for placements based in the arts.
“I was really looking forward to studying this Master’s degree in a city highly renowned for its rich culture. I also wanted to compliment the academic theory of my studies through actively engaging with the flourishing arts and festivals sector in Edinburgh. I couldn’t find a better fit than the city of Edinburgh,” Reem added.
Reem has since gone on to land a high-profile job as Executive Manager of Downtown Contemporary Arts Festival in her hometown of Cairo, a move she attributes to her QMU experience.
“This is definitely owed to having earned such a specialised Master’s degree in arts and festivals management, which is not offered in any university in the Middle East,” she explains.
Graduate Matthew Gibson was also passionate about taking his career to the next level, completing the Master of Research (MRes) programme where he acquired the skills required to successfully conduct research and disseminate findings.
Matthew became a part-time lecturer during his Master’s and feels the experience and the skills gained will help him in his future academic pursuits.
“Studying Psychology and the MRes at QMU has enabled me to develop knowledge in a number of areas and acquire a range of skills, including critical thinking and research skills, as well as an awareness of issues like ethical practice, all of which are relevant to a number of graduate careers,” he says.
The myriad of happy students and graduates are testament to the School’s nurturing environment and hands-on approach to practical learning. It offers an incredibly broad range of postgraduate courses, all of which embrace this learning-by-doing ethos. If you want to make yourself standout from the crowd, there’s bound to be something to suit your needs at QMU.