Working full-time, studying part-time: Holly’s story


MA Politics

For me, I see education as the key to my future success. Whilst you do not necessarily need a politics master’s degree to work in politics, I feel it sets you apart from the crowd, demonstrates your commitment to academia and increases your knowledge. I have always secretly aspired to work for the United Nations, and when looking into this it became apparent that a master’s degree would benefit anyone wanting to progress their career in this direction. However, I knew from the onset I would have to overcome some barriers and juggle a number of commitments if I was going to continue with my education.

I spent most of my childhood in foster care and for many years felt disengaged from the educational system. I questioned throughout the application process if I was even smart enough to do this, and it felt at the time as though the odds were not in my favour. But with some coaxing and support from friends I realised I would lose more by not trying; if I did not try I would never know if I could take that step, and likewise, if I do not try to work for the UN, I will never work for the UN. I think it is worse not knowing that failing.

I worked full time throughout my undergraduate degree so I had a good idea at what I was taking on. I’m now studying part-time and working full-time, and from my experience I would say that this is not an uncommon occurrence; many of my friends work part time/ full time too. Whilst I am not suggesting this is an easy task I would say it is more than doable with the right mind set. I currently work as a product manager for an IT distributor based outside of Leeds. They are very understanding of my commitment to education and give me my lectures off from work, and I then study over two/ three dinner breaks during the week. Employers must be seen to be nurturing your development and this is important aspect to consider when choosing your job. Some people may be in their “forever” job whilst studying, that’s great! Some people may not be which is fine too; I have found finding a job that understands your long term goals and supports you to accomplish them to be a very important factor.

Organising my time is key. I allocate a set number of books I want to read or words I need to write and stick to it; I read on the train, eating dinner and on my lunch hour and I write when I get home on an evening. I write detailed plans and ensure I manage my time in the plans. I find this way if I spend enough hours in the week working I get to spend the weekends socialising with friends. My course requires I spend a total of 18 hours a week in personal study and lectures per module. Some weeks I find I spend almost double this amount of time on university work; this is generally close to hand in dates or presentations.

Whilst I know it isn’t easy studying this way, many of us do not have a choice. It can be hard work, but worth it in the end!​

Holly is in receipt of the Postgraduate Financial Support Package, now the Leeds Masters Scholarships Scheme for 2015 entry.  To find out more about this funding, please visit here.

A new appreciation of studying: Becky’s story


MSc Biodiversity and Conservation

I was told prior to starting my course that it would be intense, and I can honestly say this is the first time I have had a chance to stop and reflect on this huge opportunity I have been given! I am studying for an MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation after completing my bachelor’s degree at Leeds in Zoology. This course is ideal for those who want to go on to do a PhD, with a third of the course being based on a research project working with current issues in conservation. As well as this, the course has a lot of modules that focus on those skills you can take with you into employment, and are taught by experts in the field. They really do know what current employers are looking for and tailor the modules so that you know that when you leave, you will be equipped with the latest skills and how to apply them. Some modules also include plenty of networking opportunities with relevant organisations such as the national trust, who we had the great experience of working alongside on a 5 day residential course. It was amazing to be working in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales and really getting a feel for how important the landscape is in terms of biodiversity, and how we can work to conserve this region which is so stunning and extremely important.

I think studying at this level is much different to undergraduate level; there is more of an emphasis on taking responsibility for your own learning, and with so many like-minded people who are on the course it really helps you work hard and want to achieve the best you can.

Personal tutorials are a great help also at this stage. I don’t think I really appreciated them as an undergraduate, but now I realise how invaluable it is to be able to have that 1 to 1 contact with a leading expert, and be able to discuss research ideas with someone who has so much experience – it really is good for your confidence as a student.

Taking advantage of the career guidance, including easily accessible facebook pages will prove vital in looking for voluntary and paid employment opportunities, as well as keeping up to date with the latest networking events and job fairs.

As for the financial support I have been lucky enough to receive, well if I hadn’t have been selected as a recipient I quite simply would not be here. It has been a really difficult road at times, and the award has been such an unexpected turning point for me and I intend to make the best of all the opportunities it has provided me with, and now I have gotten used to the fast pace and the work load, I am looking forward to what is still left to come from my course!

Becky is in receipt of the Postgraduate Financial Support Package, now the Leeds Masters Scholarships Scheme for 2015 entry.  To find out more about this funding, please visit here.