After a year working for a marketing agency and feeling it wasn’t the right fit, Charlotte Chambers returned to university to study a Master’s degree in Fashion Promotion. Charlotte tells us about her experience as a postgraduate student and how a second degree has grown her confidence and helped her secure a job she’s passionate about.
MA Fashion Promotion
To begin with, I had no intention of going to back to university. My plan was to complete my undergraduate degree, gain experience in industry and eventually set up my own marketing agency. I hadn’t really considered postgraduate study an option for me, I thought I might not be intelligent enough.
After gaining a degree in Marketing, I embarked on a career with a marketing agency thinking this was my dream job but that turned out not to be the case. I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I thought I would and I struggled come to terms with the fact that my first job in industry, my dream job, wasn’t the right fit for me.
I decided that a postgraduate degree would be a great way for me to find out what I’m really passionate about and the MA Fashion Promotion felt like the ideal opportunity. I’d always had an interest in the fashion industry and I could build on my existing marketing experience and develop more specialist skills.
For me, the biggest challenge was the step up from undergraduate level in terms of responsibility and self-direction. I’d become used to being prescribed tasks or assignments, and this was a very different way of working. The idea of devising my own project proposals was really daunting at first but I decided to take the bull by the horns!
Postgraduate study is very different to undergraduate under normal circumstances, but being a Master’s student during a pandemic was an experience like no other! I was apprehensive about starting the course at such an uncertain time but I’m so glad I did. Despite many of our lectures, tutorials and seminars being held online, the experience felt just as interactive as I’d hoped. I was able to mix with students across the Fashion Media programme and form a great group of friends which was something I’d started to doubt would be possible when studying online.
I’ve felt totally supported and reassured throughout my degree. My tutors made sure to put in place plenty of tutorials and seminars that allowed us to ask all the questions we needed, and provided the opportunity to discuss and debate ideas and theories as small classes. During lockdown, academic support was almost more essential but I never felt like I couldn’t ask a question even if it seemed like a silly one!
Alongside my studies, there have been lots of opportunities to get involved with creative projects. I worked as a writer on Ohana, a student-led magazine, and got to work with students from across the university and share creative ideas. I also helped create social media content for the BCU Create Make Instagram platform during their Fashion Revolution Week activities. This was great experience for my CV and gave the chance learn about a department and industry that I knew nothing about.
I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved on my course and through my extra-curricular work! I came to it from a very analytical background with not much creativity but the requirements of the course have pushed me to try new things. For example, our projects have to be formatted using Adobe InDesign, a programme I’d never used before, so having the opportunity to learn these skills at BCU has allowed me to present my work in creative and professional ways and provided me with a skill essential to the industry.
I never considered myself to be a confident person. I’ve experienced knockbacks in my career that have affected my confidence, but with the support from BCU staff in regards to self-development, my confidence has sky rocketed! I’ve discovered a lot about myself and have much more self-belief than I did before I started the course. With this renewed confidence in my abilities, I couldn’t wait to get back into industry. Since finishing my Master’s degree, I’ve secured a job as a Marketing Assistant with Eyespace Eyewear and although I haven’t been there long, I am absolutely loving it already!
My advice for anyone considering postgraduate study is to really consider what it is you want to do and which degree will help you get there. I used my Master’s as a way to specialise my area of expertise and pursue a career I’m really excited about.
Staying organised is essential too! Approaching my studies like a 9-5 job really helped me plan my week, stay on top of my assignments, and keep my weekends free for friends and family. Protecting your ‘you time’ is so essential when you have deadlines to meet. If I slipped out of this routine and disrupted that work/life balance, that’s when I would feel particularly stressed, so it’s important to find a routine that works for you.
If you’re coming back to education from the world of work, it might feel overwhelming. Many people do go straight into postgraduate courses after their undergraduate degree, but the experience I gained while working has been invaluable and I think it gave me a step up to meet the demands of the course. Like me, you’ll probably find it a shock to the system to prepare for assignments again but it’s not as scary as it seems; you’ll soon get back into the habit and start having fun!