4 Tips on networking as a postgraduate student at King’s

Hi, Hannah here.

As a continuation of my interview with Fiona Richardson (SSPP careers consultant), I asked how to make the most of networking whilst being a postgraduate student. Networking is a fantastic way to improve your career prospects, Fiona gave me these four great tips to share with everyone…

1. Use the King’s networks

Your department will hold many events throughout the year, attending these is a great way to make new contacts. King’s Careers and Employability also run a lot of events which are great for networking- these are particularly good for meeting potential employers. Finally, don’t be afraid to speak to people in your academic community, be that your personal tutor, lecturers or other students. They could have really valuable connections that they would be more than happy to share with you.

2.  Use Online Networks

LinkedIn is great for finding the kind of people you would like to network with. You could find alumni that are working in a sector you’re interested in, and ask them about their career progression, or stay connected with students and staff on your course, they may have backgrounds relevant to your work interests.

The careers service can offer you support with setting up your LinkedIn account and helping to make sure you are getting the most out of your profile.

3. Pitching your Approach

Most people you meet when networking will be willing to help you in some way. However you must be mindful of what you expect from them and pitch your approach appropriately.

It’s likely that someone may offer you advice about the industry they work in and how they got to be in their current position. You should not walk up to someone at a networking event and ask them for an internship.

4. Do your Research!

This point is vitally important if you want to gain valuable information from networking and not embarrass yourself. Read about who is going to be at the event by looking them up online, and make sure you know who they work for. The last thing you want to do is ask them a question that you could easily find the answer to online- this is a waste of your time and theirs.

Blog - Hannah March

Best Wishes,

Hannah

5 Ways King’s Careers & Employability can support you

I spoke to Fiona Richardson, the careers consultant for Social Science and Public Policy (SSPP). She gave me these 5 tips on how postgraduate students can make the most of the careers service at King’s…

  1. Tailored Careers Events

Your faculty and department will hold tailored careers events based around the kind of jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities students in your area of study are likely to be interested in. These events include sector insights, talks from professionals, employability skills, job hunting workshops and more.

  1. One to One Guidance

Each faculty has its own specialist consultant (like Fiona for SSPP). It is great to arrange a meeting with a consultant to discuss your career progression and get personalised help. You can get an idea of the current King’s Careers consulting team here!

  1. Accessing Internships

Careers can help with making you aware of the internships available, what may be suitable for you and help with applications. There are 3 main internship pathways available at King’s. You can find out more through the links below:

  1. Application & Interview Support

The careers service offer meetings with application advisors to support you personally with any applications you are undertaking. They also offer mock interviews to put you through your paces and make sure you’re prepared for the real thing!

  1. Alumni Mentoring

Alumni are invited to King’s through faculty and department programmes so that current students can meet them. They even hold alumni speed meet events to help you broaden your network.

Through King’s Connect the careers service runs a scheme that allows you to be matched to a suitable alumni. They then mentor you to help with your career progression.

5 ways Careers & Employability can help you- PG

 

Hello Postgraduate Offer Holders!

Hi Hannah here,

I’m a full time ClimaHannahte Change: Environment, Science and Policy MSc student in the Department of Geography. I would like to wish you many congratulations on your offer to study at King’s College London, something to be really proud of!

In the course of the next few weeks you will be hearing from me and other students from the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy with information about life at King’s, our own  postgraduate experiences and what it’s like to live in London.

Next month we are launching a buddy programme where you will receive emails from us, have the chance to chat with us over virtual fairs, and can follow our blog posts. We hope that we can be a helpful resource to you while you prepare to study at postgraduate level.

If you have any questions feel free to send them our way, we’d love to hear from you! In the meantime, stay tuned to see more blog posts from us soon.

Surviving the dissertation period by Matt

It’s dissertation time. I have exactly five weeks (and counting) left until I hand in my dissertation. I have approximately 9,000 words completed and am starting to feel ‘the fear’ creeping in. Right now I’m in the super-efficient stage of the fear, feeling very focused and spending the majority of my spare time in the library. The battle is to keep from teetering over into panic and doubt – it’s about focus, perseverance and determination. It’s also really important to not put too much pressure on yourself, as well as look after yourself so that you’re healthy and happy.

I am confident that if I keep up an even pace, I will not slip into that all-too-familiar trap. So far I’m enjoying my work – I have never been so immersed in a topic – and believe this is the key to an enjoyable dissertation period. One of the biggest challenges for me has been keeping a narrow focus on my research question, and not drifting off into interesting, yet irrelevant, territory.

Starting the research early has been crucial. As a part-time student studying a master’s over two years, I have had plenty of time to think about my topic. However, recently I’ve had to do a lot of juggling as I have been working full time for the last two months – three days a week paid work for a charity and two days a week work experience for an MP – so I mainly study in the evenings and weekends. Although this has been difficult at times, I have had no regrets. Combining study and work experience will hopefully ease the job search following the dissertation hand-in.

I started researching for my dissertation in April before the exam period started, allowing myself a month off for revision and an additional week to recover. Clearly defining when and what I would be studying has helped me to keep focused. I also try and plan social events a week or so in advance so I can manage my study timetable accordingly. This may sound a little tedious but studying for a master’s is a great opportunity and it’s important to make the most of it.

As the hours and days go by, I have a building sense of both nervousness and excitement. It feels like there’s still a way to go, but I’m determined to do the best I can. I’m looking forward to handing in a piece of work I’m proud of, and then I will be more than ready to celebrate.

Balance and planning your dissertation by Mian

Mian photoI am a student pursuing an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages. My dissertation is a questionnaire-based study, which means it will take a lot of time to design, hand out, collect my data, and analyse it. I prepared my questionnaire design in April and used the entire month of May to collect data from my participants. At the same time, I was studying the third-term modules and doing the assignments for each class. Following the third term, I travelled to Norway in order to clear my mind and relax; it is important to approach the dissertation with a level head. Currently, I am analysing my research data and writing my dissertation. Overall a well-planned schedule is really useful for a smooth dissertation period, and may help you avoid suffering to complete your work too close to the deadline! :D

Dissertation and the British Summer Time by Shayda

Hey everyone!

Today’s entry is about staying balanced, while maintaining focus, during the dissertation period. This discussion couldn’t be more fitting for this time of year: we’re in mid-July now, which means there’s only a month and a half to go! Summertime in London creates an interesting predicament for MA students who need to stay atop our research, while also enjoying the rarity of a sunny afternoon.

In the dissertation period I’ve realised that it’s very easy to dip in and out of productivity, and unfortunately I’ve experienced it firsthand.  I had a strong couple of weeks researching in the middle of June but, rather than keeping up the momentum, I found myself neglecting my responsibilities as I subconsciously felt justified in taking a long break. The problem for me is that I also work full-time. I had a pretty big reality check last week as I noted my August rota and came to realise how little time I have left before my dissertation is due.

The million pound question is then how do we successfully balance work and study? First and foremost, be honest with yourself and your capabilities. If you’re planning to be employed during dissertation time it’s important for you to make yourself a realistic research schedule. Outside of my “relaxation period” I’ve made weekly goals of either reaching a specific word count or finishing a subsection. I try not to push myself too far and make individual goals catered around what my life is like each week, as I feel it’s important to avoid feeling discouraged by failure of not achieving those goals.

The second important thing is to make some time for your friends. Yes, they will be there when you finish, and yes there will be social events after your dissertation deadline, but it’s important to stay sane during this intense period. Reward yourself for meeting your goals by allowing yourself a cheeky day or night out with your friends to unwind and give your brain a break. As it stands, I research after work and typically allocate all of my days off work to research as well, but give myself one to two nights a week after work to socialise. I have found this to be the best way of maintaining research alongside employment and friends (assuming I make the most out of my days off)!

Staying balanced during the dissertation period by Ingvild

Ing photoWhile writing your master’s dissertation at King’s (and almost every other university in the U.K.), everyone else is enjoying their summer holiday on vacation or doing other things to enjoy their break from school or work. Therefore, I have discovered some things to help me keep motivated and efficient throughout the dissertation period. Here are my tips:

  • Organize: From the very beginning of your dissertation period after the examination period in May, start to plan your summer. Maybe divide the time before the dissertation deadline into different parts with specific goals for each chunk of time. This will all help you to keep the bigger picture in mind, and help you structure your days. It will also keep you calm, because you are following a track you know will end with you being done.
  • Break: Take a break after the examination period, even if it is just a few days; it will make the transition to writing your dissertation much easier. It will also help your mind prepare to produce your best work yet, all during one summer. And, after the exams, you deserve a break from school!
  • Plan the fun: Plan fun activities all throughout the summer, so you always have something to look forward to. This helps to keep motivated and efficient when you are working.
  • Study together: the library is significantly emptier in the summer months than during the year. As a result, it can feel quite lonely and demotivating to study alone each day. Therefore, I choose to often go with friends to the library, so we can have break together and talk about things that do not involve the dissertation or school at all.

 

-Ing

Staying balanced during dissertation period by Tamim

This dedicated work space with two computer screens is the secret to my dissertation. I use one for conducting research (left) and one for the write-up (right). Having this setup has proved so useful to me as I can really immerse myself in the dissertation and push forward with it.

This dedicated work space with two computer screens is the secret to my dissertation. I use one for conducting research (left) and one for the write-up (right). Having this setup has proved so useful to me as I can really immerse myself in the dissertation and push forward with it.

I am a part-time master’s student so I effectively had 2 years to prepare and implement my dissertation. However, because I work full-time, it was still a challenge. My advice? Plan, plan, and plan some more. Ensure you know your topic before you even start your master’s and make sure it is something you are passionate about! That is so important. And ensure to contact your supervisor as quickly as possible and build up that very important relationship with them in order to have their support. The more the supervisor knows about your circumstances the more they can help you. The next stage after that is to get your ethical approval as quickly as possible; this allows you to get on with the all important research and interviews.

Research & write-up

I always believe that you can never stop researching your dissertation topic, so I don’t like to put a deadline for research. For instance, I researched for two months which allowed enough time to understand where I want to go with the project. You should treat research and writing as parallel, not necessarily sequential.  I have listed few points below that I experienced during my journey:

  1. Feeling overwhelmed. After writing the first thousand words I realized I had 15 times that amount left to write in the next 5 months, atop working full time and having a wife and baby girl I need to take care of. I became very overwhelmed, but I took a deep breath and reminded myself my mother did her PhD with four children and a full-time job. The moral of the story is that there are thousands of students just like me who endure harder situations, and yet have managed great successes in their dissertations. So just carry on working, and it will be done.
  1. My supervisor gave me a good pointer: Thinking is research too. That means when you are thinking about your dissertation but not on the computer, that is still time well spent. Also, closing your computer when you have writer’s block isn’t a bad thing. Go for a walk, read a book, or simply sit there and think about it. This allows you to understand your research more. In my case I played with my daughter while thinking about what I should include. This helped me cover a lot and push through that writer’s block.
  1. Utilizing the resources available. There are dissertation seminars that provide you with a good understanding as well as your supervisor. Furthermore if you really don’t know where to start, follow this library link.* This is your one stop shop for academic literature on your subject. The interface is straightforward and there’s an excellent help file there.

*Click on ‘find databases’. Type in ‘IBSS’. Follow the link to International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (for social science subjects).

Mian’s advice on exams and studying

My MA TESOL programme combines theory and practice. In the theory study classroom, because the size of the class is quite small, each course is a workshop-lecture. Before each lesson, my classmates and I read the reference book and come with questions. In the class, the lecturers participate in our group discussion. After the class we also have the study group of 3-4 people, discussing the reading questions or assignment together.

For the teaching practice, I often write my plans on my own, then share it with peers for modification. After the lessons and each tutor’s feedback we still have peer evaluations that we organize ourselves, which is very useful!

There are workshops for fine-tuning research skills, dissertation writing, and exciting conferences that King’s offers. One of my classmates even won the fund from King’s to participate in an international TESOL conference.

Shayda: Advice during the exam period

Hello everyone!

As I sit here writing this post I can feel the warm rays of the sun coming from a nearby window, and I’m just marveling at the fact that it’s already May! I feel like it’s just snuck up on us! This month will forever be associated with deadlines and coursework as it is just as hectic of a time for a Master’s student as it is for those working on their Bachelor’s degrees. We’ve officially got four months to go until our dissertations are bound and handed in, so, as you can imagine, the air is very tense at the moment. As a part-time student, however, I can’t deny that I am at an advantage. I’m in my final year now, so I’ve been able to fine-tune tips and strategies to make the most out of my revision time. My previous strategy of combing through everything, line-by-line, left me wasting hours on reading that wasn’t specifically relevant to my research. My personal tutor advised me to instead start by reading the abstract, introduction and conclusion of articles, etc., in order to determine their value in relation to my research, and then proceed with reading the entire piece of work if I thought it would benefit my argument. Sounds pretty intuitive right? Sometimes when we’re stressed it’s hard to think with common sense, so I’m glad she spelled it out for me! My dissertation supervisor has also pushed me to think systematically, which is really important. I naturally think creatively, so I often focus on the bigger picture when conducting research, which can be good, but can also cause me to miss important details as I go along. Instead, I now try to focus on each section of my work in and of itself.  This has allowed me to better build the subdivisions of my research, and work on tying up any lose ends once I’ve finished a first draft. If you’re a bit stubborn like me and can’t get out of your head, try jotting down notes for your other sections as you research, complete with links and references to material you stumble upon, so you can better concentrate on the subsection you’re dealing with, safe in the comfort that your good (but momentarily irrelevant) ideas aren’t lost.

Advice on how to cut time while still researching efficiently is useful to any student, but these tips were especially useful to me as I also work 32 hours a week. I’ve discussed balancing education and employment in previous blog posts, but I’d like to stress for any new readers that it can be challenging. My best advice is to know, but more importantly accept, your limits. Between uni and work, I’ve gone weeks without a day off, so in order to get the most out of my time I do my best to get a hold of my rota as far in advance as possible, so I can coordinate my days off/early shifts with my deadlines. It’s hard to motivate yourself when you feel a bit overwhelmed with deadlines and coursework, so just do your best to remember that you will feel much better if you allow yourself to break up your workload rather than leave it to the last minute.

When it comes to efficient study, one thing that is sometimes over looked is allowing yourself a break. Again, I’ve mentioned this before, but I can’t stress it enough! I’ve had my fair share of times when I’ve let my academic and occupational responsibilities get the best of me, and my body has never failed to let me know when I’ve pushed myself too far. It’s so important to give yourself some time to be social or to immerse yourself in a hobby that isn’t uni or work related. The one thing I’ve found to truly help me relax is going to gigs. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was fifteen, but ten years on I’ve realised that I rely on them now more than ever. The energy at a gig is incredible, and the best part is that the moment the music comes on you can’t help but forget about the fact that you have a deadline in a week or work in the morning, because the music is so loud and you’re so distracted by hearing your favourite songs that you’re forced to live in the moment! It’s not the cheapest hobby in the world, but I’d recommend it to anyone who’s feeling the pressure of student life!

As for prospective students, I’d recommend taking this time to slowly familiarize yourself with the topic you’ve chosen to study. Build relationships with published work in your field and find specific topics you’re interested in. Start asking yourself how you think this degree can impact your life, and likewise, how you think having this degree can impact the world. Getting yourself in this frame of mind will help you choose topics for research and allow you to hone in on an aspect of your area of study that you can expand on in your dissertation.

Until next time!
Shayda