Facing the inevitable: what next after your undergraduate degree?

There is nothing more exhilarating than knowing the answer to a burning question, but what happens when you can’t answer THE question? Panic sets in, you start questioning everything.

So, what are your plans now?

You cannot hide behind the response “I’ve got X amount of years left at university” anymore, it’s now time to answer the question you have been avoiding for the past two years.

Why a postgrad?

After years of successfully dodging the question, the time had come for me to finally answer, “what are you going to do after your degree?” Simple answer, I had no idea, and that’s okay.

Doing a masters is something I’d often thought about, but whenever the stress of doing an assignment at undergrad kicked in, so did the self-doubt. If I can’t do a ‘simple’ essay at undergrad, can I do it at postgrad? I did what I do best, panic-research; I contacted Angie Neville, one of the module leaders and had a meeting with her. Tea is the solution to all problems, so we sat down over a cuppa and discussed my worries and concerns. She teaches on the core modules Criminal Investigation 1, 2 and 3, so she was able to talk me through what to expect during my study, specifically, her modules. I also had meeting with Dr David Hicks, who is the Programme Leader for the course. After these meetings, I felt more confident in making an informed decision. For me personally, I chose to do a masters because it allowed me to challenge myself and further my studies.

Okay, cool, but why stay at Derby?

“It’s pronounced DAR-bee, not DER-bee”, yes. I have become one of those. Before I fell in love with the University, I fell in love with the City of Derby. For me, leaving both the city and the University was never on the cards.

The biggest decision I had to make was choosing which one of my subjects to progress through to postgraduate (as my undergraduate was a Joint Honours degree in Applied Criminology and Psychology). The support I received from the two departments, both during my undergraduate studies and while making this decision, was invaluable.

For example, during the summer holidays, I began thinking about what I would like to do for my MSc dissertation. I knew I wanted to do something around child sexual exploitation (CSE), but I wasn’t sure what exactly. I got in touch with Dr Henriette Bergstrøm, who was my undergraduate supervisor and she had a meeting with me that helped me to formulate some ideas. I felt more comfortable speaking to her as I had previous interactions with her during my undergraduate studies.

Throughout the course of my postgraduate, the staff have been supportive in my academic interests, offering advice related to their previous work experience including working for the Police or academic research, as well as practical advice regarding what’s next. Through speaking to one of the lecturers in the department, I was able to get in touch with someone in the Police specialising in CSE and I have been invited to a conference (due to the sensitivity of the conference, its all hush hush so that’s all I can tell you, but fingers crossed at the end of this conference I am able to answer the question [what next?])

Oh, you said ‘postgrad’ not ‘postcard’

  • Choosing to do a masters is not an easy decision, but before you make this decision:
    Research, Research, Research! Get information on the course, talk to the programme leader and find out more.
  • Think about the reasons you’re doing it: is it because you want to or because you feel pressured to answer the question [what next?]

Top tips to surviving a postgraduate:

  • Just because you’re doing a postgraduate doesn’t mean you can’t ask for help, so ask!
  • Be prepared, it’s going to be intense
  • Time management is key
  • Tea

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