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 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 :)