One of the major advantages of Communications Studies is the variety of careers open to you. The degree prepares students to work in the fields of broadcasting and print media, governance and regulation, become corporate consultants or community activists. Even then, there is the evolving eco-system of digital entrepreneurship. And just within these fields there are many sectors, levels, and areas of communicative practice. For instance, one can work in local government or at the United Nations. Having worked in several of these sectors I have some (limited) grounds to say that ‘media work’ is a very rewarding, mostly because of its social nature. Throughout, I believe the training that comes from graduate school certainly helps you become more successful in ‘media work.’ And while I do think one must pause and give serious consideration before enrolling in a PhD program, I nevertheless maintain that an MA and MPhil degree is very much worth pursuing. So, keeping the social component in mind, here are some reasons I think you should enrol in graduate school:
Gradate students choose their own areas of expertise, with minimal limitations. You tackle a project during hours you set. You are not micro-managed. And academic freedom exists. More importantly, supervisors tend to encourage you to be autonomous.
There are often salary bumps that come from having a graduate degree. But more importantly, once you have some experience, the degree makes you competitive for senior managerial positions. The added institutional credibility allows you to gain additional income through consultations and workshops. All of this brings more stability to your life.
If done well, an MA or MPhil degree gives you expertise on a topic. Beneath this, there is something intrinsically exciting about learning, experimenting, and teaching ideas. Few other professions are only limited by imagination. Similarly, if you get tired of one line of research, then find another thing that excites you.
A flexible schedule allows you to work from home if you so desire. Provided your duties are met, you can do work anywhere and anytime without it being a problem. This means you can set aside time to have a family, raise children, and be available for significant others as well as for the other important things in your life.
Conferences give graduate students many opportunities to see the world—and there is funding available for research dissemination.
There are not many jobs that work with new, brilliant, young, energetic people excited about making their mark on the world. Tutoring undergraduates is a very rewarding experience; you help them to think through their goals, share and shape their ideas and thoughts, and then soon see their achievements. This is a wonderful use of time. Interacting with these talented, creative people with big dreams is a wonderful part of campus life.
To be frank, it can be a lot. But very little of this is ‘busy work,’ the kind that must be ‘imminently-completed-or-else-disaster-will-rein.’ People brag about being busy to demonstrate their self-importance, but to me this just means they can’t exercise judgement about what they can and can’t do in the time they have set aside for their research. I remind myself that I have control over the time I give to any topic—that I can say ‘no’ when required. I work to get the task done. My experience suggests graduate students adopt a similar attitude. So to return to the first point, in graduate school you get to exercise autonomy over the workload. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I hope these social reasons will help you see the wider benefits to pursuing an MA or MPhil degree and to use it to lead a richer, more rewarding life. Perhaps I might see your application in July 2018!
Version Date: August 8th 2017