Wednesday, 22 October 2014

My Experience of Postgraduate Study and Doing a PhD




Today's post is a little different from the norm, as it's all about the other, non-blogger, side of my life. As well as a blogger, I am also a final year PhD student. My PhD is in Textile Design and Fashion Management, and I'm doing it at The University of Manchester. My work focuses on shopping online, and I track consumers eyes when they are looking for clothes on a retailer's website. I'm investigating where exactly consumers of all age groups look when on a fashion retailer's website and then looking at how website design can be improved as a result.  Before I did a PhD I also did a Masters degree, which was a totally different experience. I thought it might be useful, or interesting, for you guys to hear about Masters and PhDs and my experiences of each of them...

A Master's Degree
An MSc or MA postgraduate degree is one year's study, specialising in one subject. A masters is a great idea if you want to study a different subject to your bachelors degree, such as one that is more relevant to the job you want to go in to. For instance, I did my Bachelor's degree in English, History and History of Art but I really wanted a job in fashion. I spent a year interning and working as a sales assistant desperately trying to make it up the career ladder in a very competitive industry, but just kept getting knocked back. One of the main things I noticed on application forms was that you needed a degree in a fashion-related subject. This led to my decision to do a masters in International Fashion Retailing at The University of Manchester.

The format is similar to a Bachelor's Degree in that the modules are taught; you go to lectures, have coursework and exams, as well as a dissertation. It's kind of like a bachelor's degree condensed into one year, making it quite intense at times. I learnt so much from my masters and about the kind of career I'd like to do specifically in the fashion industry. It wasn't easy, I worked two jobs whilst doing it in order to live, but it was one of the best decisions I made. It opened so many doors for me, allowed me to apply for jobs that I previously didn't meet the required criteria for, and even introduced me to blogging!

After I did my Masters I got a job as a Fashion Buyer and Marketing Manager for an online fashion retailer. I loved working in the industry and finally having a job that made me excited. However, I was encouraged to apply for a PhD by my supervisor from my masters, having got very carried away with my dissertation and thoroughly enjoying the research. A PhD had never been something that I had previously considered, I didn't even know you could do them in fashion, but the opportunity to do one was too good to be missed.

FYI, You don't have to do a masters to do a PhD, you can go straight to doing a PhD from your Bachelors Degree, that just happened to be the way that I did it. If you're interested in doing a Masters degree I'd recommend having a look on different University's websites.

A PhD 
A PhD is usually 3 years and specialised in one very particular area. There are two types of PhD: funded and self-funded. The funded ones enable you to receive a monthly wage from a research council throughout the whole degree, which is what I'm on, enabling you to live, albeit modestly! The self-funded ones just work in the same way as a bachelor's degree or masters degree does, in that you pay tuition fees and then of course your cost of living.

I'm in the final few months of my PhD now, I finish around May, and I must say it's flown by. I've really enjoyed doing it, it's been so interesting. You're very much your own boss when doing a PhD; you're expected to work roughly 9-5 Monday-Friday but can choose when to work those hours (e.g. if you take Monday off you can make up for it on Saturday etc) and in arts subjects or fashion like I'm doing, you can also work from home sometimes, which is always nice. I love how flexible it is. There are challenges, I had to interview and conduct eye tracking experiments on 50 consumers, which was very time consuming and frustrating at times when they didn't turn up! But every job has its ups and downs, and I'd say overall it's been a fantastic experience. I also feel like I now have the option of going into academia or industry for my career, which is a great choice to have.

If you want to look for PhDs to apply for, Findaphd.com is the best website to go on. Also look on specific University's websites.

Is anyone else doing a Masters or a PhD? Is anyone considering doing one? If you've got any questions you'd like to ask me about either PhDs or Masters please feel free to do so in the comments below :) 

Rosy x

20 comments:

  1. I've just finished uni with a 2:1 in Public Relations but I really want to go back and do a masters in an area such as Events Management.

    I heard though that if you do a masters you have to fund it yourself! Is this true?!

    Sophie xx
    www.sophiesbooksandbeauty.blogspot.com

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    1. Hey Sophie, congratulations on your 2:1! Unfortunately yes, you do have to fund the masters yourself. The only other option is to ask a company to sponsor you, but that is quite rare for a masters as they usually sponsor employees to do very specific qualifications (e.g. HR exams). Sorry, I know that's not what you want to hear. Like I said, I had two part time jobs when I did mine and it was hard- you could always look into doing one part time and have a job alongside? Or if not looking at doing Events management courses for cheaper? Or try and get the experience through interning xxx

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  2. You should be very proud of yourself! Well done for all that hard work.

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  3. Wow it sounds like you've had such an amazing few years! I'm tempted to do a masters, I did a degree in psychology but want to work in marketing and I'm struggling to get a job too. I'm interning at places at the moment but it feels so unproductive! Congratulations for when you finish your PhD, anyone who can do basically three degrees needs a round of applause in my eyes!

    India / Touchscreens & Beautyqueens

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    1. Thank you very much! It hasn't been easy at times but it's totally worth it.

      Aw I know what you're going through, I felt like that after graduating from my BA degree- I did so many internships and felt like I wasn't going anywhere. Eventually one internship did lead to a job though, and all that experience counts for a lot on your CV. Plus it's a great way to find out the kind of career that you'd love/ hate. Keep going hun! A big thing in getting a job is about who you know so keep impressing people and keeping in touch- as well as networking as much as possible- and something will come up when you least expect it :) Keep me posted! xxx

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  4. What you have done is so impressive. Your research topic sounds so interesting too. I finish university this year and I just don't know whether to go for a masters or not. I just don't know if I have the confidence. Your post has really helped though. It is so helpful to see personal opinions on it x

    Mapped Out | Fashion, Beauty, Lifestyle

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    1. Thank you so much, that means a lot and I'm so glad this post helped! Having a job or getting a degree is all about confidence lovely- you've got to believe that you're just as good as everybody else, if not better. Trust me, that's all everyone else is trying to do. It's all just titles- believe you're good enough because you are xxx

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  5. I've dabbled with the idea of doing a masters a few times since I finished my degree this summer, but I didn't like my degree in the end, History! I love that you studied something like English, History AND History of Art (wowza) and ended up in fashion, I never thought a masters in fashion related subjects would be possible through that! Also, working 2 jobs while doing an MA? God you're a hero!!
    Thanks for sharing your experiences, it's generated a load of thoughts in my little brain!!

    Ashley xx
    ashleyelizabethx.blogspot.com

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    1. Aw thank you! I know, I didn't realise I'd be able to do a fashion degree after that either! Most Masters degrees require a bachelor's degree grade in any subject. E.G. they'll specify that you need a 2.1 degree in any subject for instance. That's why they're so great for doing one in the type of career you're interested in :) Good luck with it and let me know how you get on! xx

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  6. I did a Masters and am currently in the final year of a 4 year funded PhD. As much as it's been fun I can't wait to leave education now :) Good luck for your final few months!

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    1. Haha I'm not surprised, that's a lot of education! Well done though, what a amazing achievement! What do you plan on doing next? Good luck with your final year, I hope it goes well :) xxx

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  7. I have really been contemplating on getting a Master's on something related to the business of fashion and then a PhD in Women Studies. I am currently getting my AA on General Business, working part-time, and trying to maintain my blog. What's your advice in terms of time management?

    Zoe
    http://www.thatszoe.com/

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    1. That sounds really interesting! You sound incredibly busy hun, I know that feeling! My advice would be to try and schedule times for each thing. Doing a postgrad degree requires a lot of self motivation and perseverance- similar to keeping your blog going so you'll be good at that. I'd say plan each day out and try and stick to it. Like have 9-10 on your blog, then a break (so important else you'll burn out!) and then 11-1 on your work etc. I keep my diary next to me at all times, and I also have a notebook with all my blog post drafts in, as well as an excel spreadsheet with any blog collaborations that I'm doing- what date I received products etc. Just breaking everything down helps to make it less overwhelming. But other than that, accept that some evenings and weekends will have to be dedicated to your work/ blog! Hope that helps hun! xxx

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  8. First of all well done on your dedication to study. Its a big commitment! You must be thrilled to have all those qualifications under your belt :)

    Much love.
    www.tro-unicorns.uk

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    1. Thank you very much! Yes it's a great feeling to have achieved something and have something that you're proud of :) xxx

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  9. I'm doing my Masters part-time over two years so I can work at the same time and at times i've found the workload to be quite a lot with a job so I can't imagine how difficult you found it working two jobs and doing the course full-time! I don't think i'll carry on with a PhD as I've fallen a little out of love with my subject. I have a year left and whilst i'm enjoying it I can't wait to be done with education, 19 consecutive years is a long time to be in school!

    I think it's great that you've done a post giving your opinions on both, it's not something I've seen a lot of on blogs i've come across! Best of luck with your last few months!

    Love Amylou x
    www.amylous.co.uk

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    1. Thank you very much! I really appreciate you taking the time out to comment, especially when you're so busy. It is tough, but you've got to think about the end goal, and that it's not forever :) I think a master's is harder in terms of intense workload than a phd to be honest because it's in a shorter time frame and there's constant assessments. I'm not surprised that you've had enough now though, 19 years is a long time haha! You never know though, after a few years away from it you might start to miss it :) Good luck with the rest of your master's hun- it'll all be worth it for that great qualification and all the job opportunities it provides at the end! xxx

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  10. I've been considering doing a Masters or PhD but I just don't know! I guess I just need to look into them a bit more and see how it goes :)

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  11. I finished my PhD at the end of 2013 and Graduated earlier this year. My undergrad was in Psychology, I then went on to do a two year part time Masters in Parapsychology and Transpersonal psychology. One of my lecturers also encouraged me to go on to do a PhD, so I applied for a research grant from the Society for Psychical Research and went on to do my PhD in Parapsychology. Mine was far from easy due to my university being beyond useless and then to top it off my supervisor abandoned me 3 weeks before final submission. Due to this and his lack of supervision all the way through I ended up having to do an additional year, so mine took me four years, but that's not too bad for a science based subject. So now I love being able to say I'm a Dr of ghosts!

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