To highlight the exciting career resources specifically targeted for postgraduates, we discuss the market for Masters degrees, the career journey that Masters students go through at King’s – and how it’s okay if you feel unsure about your next career steps.
Employer perspectives on Masters degrees
‘Problem-solving ability, written and verbal communication skills, and an aptitude for working collaboratively are just some of the qualities that we value highly, and these are often developed and honed during postgraduate study.’ So says one of our valued employer partners, Dr Lily Dixon from Innovia Technology (Jan 2021). Find out some other employer’s opinions via our KEATS pages.
The Market for Masters – and some statistics
The ‘market’ for students with a Masters degree is a hugely complex one; after all, not only is each of you is approaching your Masters degree with a different purpose (from out of interest to your subject, to get a ‘qualification’ for a job field, to develop your career forward, to gain some expert niche knowledge, or maybe because you didn’t find the job you wanted after your undergrad and didn’t want to leave uni just yet), but each of you is looking for something different afterwards.
Masters graduates’ employment after university is not measured by any UK league tables; it’s really hard to generalise about what happens to these graduates. At King’s, we know around about 80% of you enter work 15 months after your studies, and around 20% of you in 2019 were working at the same time as studying in any case. You’re likely to be earning more than your undergraduate peers too, which may be of some interest. But these statistics mask wide variation. Find out more in Prospects’ analysis, looking at graduate outcomes data (be aware there was a gap in national reporting following changes to UK graduate destinations collection between 2017-18).
Of course, Masters courses and graduates are viewed differently in different countries. Use the King’s Connect Alumni Mentoring platform to ask questions of graduates in different countries, or our GoinGlobal information resource.
It’s okay to be unsure about your career during Masters
When you joined King’s, we asked you some questions at enrolment about how planned you were about your career. We ask you this again in the PTES survey that Masters students are sent in the spring. Results show that actually, Masters students get less sure about what they want to do throughout their degree course (more people have a ‘few ideas’ than answer ‘I have a clear career plan’). This is particularly true for King’s Business School, Natural, Mathematical and Engineering Sciences and Arts & Humanities students. KCLSU asked this question in their careers survey in Nov 2020, as well; already it showed that proportionally people were less sure about their futures.
We can surmise from this that perhaps your options become broader, or your original idea less appealing. It could be that you are less sure about where your Masters degree will take you.
None of this is a problem – it’s always good to be broad-minded about your next steps – but it does show the need to get informed about what your future possibilities could be.
What to do next – helping you build success
So, after all this, what to do? How can Masters students find some more definite possibilities? Well, one key thing is to deploy your developing research skills to find out more about the job market relevant to you.
- Take inspiration from this video: Navigating the current job market [60 minutes, log in with your standard KCL ID and password]
- Book onto events and listen to our speakers at the various events including the Discover Careers In… panels (you’ll find recordings of an incredible variety of past events on our KEATS page) [varying lengths, log in with your standard KCL ID and password]
- How often do the employers mention things like research skills, project management, professional maturity, resilience, experience? All these things Masters students very often have. Maybe you could take a read of our case studies as lots of them are from graduates with postgraduate degrees.
But what is definitely clear is that understanding what you have to offer – your KASE (Knowledge, Attributes, Skills and Experience) – is vital: without you being clear on what your Masters gives you, there is no way an employer will understand it. So if there’s one thing we can recommend, it is to work on realising the KASE you already hold, and build your confidence in everything you can offer with your Masters degree!
Need more support? Book an appointment with a careers consultant to better understand your options (initial appointments 20 minutes, referral 50 minutes). Or, work through our new resources for Masters students at your own pace, here on KEATS.
Author: Kate Murray
Editor: Laura Patari
 Internal data set, Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017-18, Power BI dashboard, accessed 14th Feb 2021
 PTES data, 2019
 Same reference